The Federal Budget in Household Terms
Talk about funny business, but no one's laughing. We avoided the fiscal cliff ... by adding more debt. Crazy, I know! (Read More: Despite Cliff Deal: 'Nothing Really Has Been Fixed')
It's hard to grasp the outsized numbers coming out of Washington. A trillion here, a trillion there. It's like trying to understand the distance to the next star beyond the Sun. Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light years away. Ok, whatever...
Here, I hope, is a better way to look at what just happened in our nation's capital New Year's Day. (Read More: Why Investors Are Selling Today's Big Rally)
First, the big numbers. According to the White House, below are projected revenues and expenditures for 2013 without the bill approved to avoid the fiscal cliff:
Deficit: $ 901,000,000,000
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill voted on New Year's Day actually adds $349,640,000,000 to the deficit this year, despite the tax increases. (Read More: Key Points in Bill Passed by Congress to Avert US 'Fiscal Cliff')
That makes the new deficit $1,250,640,000,000. Meantime, our National Debt is somewhere around $16,400,000,000,000 at the moment.
Hard to get your head around all those zeroes? Why not remove seven of the zeroes after each figure and look at these numbers like it's your household budget:
Deficit after you make fiscal cliff changes: $125,064
Balance on your credit card: $1,640,000
Wow. You should be in prison. Your credit card balance is more than five times your annual income. The difference between you and the U.S. government is that the government can print money. But imagine how your bank must feel. Sure, its making a killing as you only make the minimum payment every month and the interest adds up, but it's also starting to worry you'll just stop paying altogether.
—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells