Okay, it is more money than even Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos have, put together. That probably still doesn’t give people too much information since most people don’t have much familiarity with these folks’ fortunes. But it might be helpful if the media made some effort to put the proposed spending in President Biden’s infrastructure package in a context that would make it meaningful.
The spending is supposed to take place over eight years which means that it would be equal to just over 0.8 percent of projected GDP over this period. At $250 billion a year, it comes to about $750 per person each year over this period. It is less than 40 percent of what we are projected to spend on prescription drugs over this period and less than half of the higher prices that we will be paying as a result of government-granted patent and related monopolies. (For some reason, the money transferred to the drug companies and other beneficiaries of these government-granted monopolies never gets called “big government.”)
Anyhow, instead of reporting $2 trillion as some big scary number, often not even telling people the time period involved, it would be helpful if news outlets tried to put the number in contexts that would make it meaningful to their readers. We get that reporting big numbers is a cool fraternity ritual among budget reporters, but making these numbers meaningful is actually supposed to be their job.
This first appeared on Dean Baker’s Beat the Press blog.