What's 43,000 Pages and 16 Feet Tall?

Photo by Oliver Quillia for CNBC.com

On the eve of a highly-anticipated report by President Obama's deficit commission, which will lay out specific proposals for reducing federal debt, it's important to put things into perspective.

The numbers are staggering. The challenge is daunting. The current tally is almost impossible to wrap your head around: $14 trillion and counting.

For weeks now, we've been reporting on "The Fleecing of America"—wasteful government spending and questionable federal programs that many believe would be easy to cut in order to bring that $14 trillion figure down.

Some of that spending qualitifies as pork. Some of those programs are out of date or simply a result of mismanagement.


But trimming the deficit ultimately means tough choices. And to get an idea just how tough, we printed out the entire federal budget—43,000 pages in all. It stands 16 feet tall. You can see why cutting it down to size will be an enormous task. (Watch video of Erin Burnett and the paper budget skyscraper below.)

That's where the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform comes in. The 18-member panel will deliver their plan tomorrow and will vote on the proposal Friday.

The co-chairmen, Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson, are busy trying to convince at least 14 members to support the plan. Fourteen is a key number—without it, the panel cannot make a recommendation to the president.

What do they want to cut? We know Bowles and Simpson was to reduce spending by $4 trillion over the next decade and cut the deficit in half by 2015. The biggest cuts would come from defense.

Also on the chopping block: changes to medicare and social security. And, as we saw yesterday from President Obama, a freeze in salaries of federal workers.

A new CNBC-AP Poll says a majority of Americans believe both higher taxes and cuts in government services will be necessary to reduce or eliminate the deficit. The poll also found that 85 percent of those surveyed think the deficit will negatively effect their children's and grandchildren's future.

Watch special CNBC coverage of Wednesday's deficit commission report. Erin Burnett anchor "Squawk on the Street" from 9-11am ET and "Street Signs" from 2-3pm ET in Washington, DC. And look for our upcoming "Fleecing of America" stories on-air and online. You can also find them here.