What if every US billionaire gave $2mil to help pay off the debt?

Could it help? Would it be enough? I don’t think they would agree to it, but what if they did? What good could it do?

You would need 500,000 billionaires to pay off one trillion. Ain’t happening.

According to this chart, there are 412 billionaires in the U.S. If each of them gave $2 million towards the debt, that’s a total of $824 million dollars. A nice gesture, but a drop in the bucket, given that the U.S. debt is $14 trillion, and the U.S. budget deficit is $1.3 trillion.

I never said they’d pay off all of it, just try to knock a dent in it!

aren’t the debt in trillions? i don’t think there are enough billionaires in the world for that, let alone just the US.

Beyond the other replies, do you really want to set this precedent? What happens next year? Or the year after? We’ll have budget deficits for a while yet, and it’s a project of decades, not merely a couple years, to start paying off the national debt.

Well, then I guess my new question is what’s the difference between a budget deficit and debt?

$824 million is 0.06% of the $1.3 trillion current budget deficit, and 0.006% of the total U.S. debt. It’d be a very, very, very tiny dent.

Deficit = difference between what you spend and your income.
Debt = what you owe.

It’d be on the scale of using a lemonade stand to cover your mortgage. It doesn’t even cover the interest, much less pay off any principle.

According to Forbes, there are 1,210 billionaires worldwide.

As I understand it, the budget deficit is the amount that the current year’s federal budget overspends the current year’s federal revenues.

The total debt is the product of that deficit, plus all the prior years’ deficits, plus the interest that the government has to keep paying on that debt.

using 412 billionaires as the figure, they’ll each have to pay about 34 billion each to pay off the debt.

Salary: $4000/ month
Expenditures: $4500/month

Deficit: $500 / month

Debt: Mortage + Car Loan + Loans to cover your monthly overage.

A nitpick here: the interest paid is part of the expenditure, so it’s a component of the deficit. There’s no need to count it twice.

Well, using kenobi 65’s figures, $824 million is less than 0.006% of the total national debt of $14 trillion. Do you consider six-thousandths of a percent to be a dent?

I don’t. I consider it a rounding error on the total debt.

Indeed, as of December 2007 (before the current recession), the national debt was increasing by nearly $1.4 billion per day, or $1 million per minute, so your plan to tax the billionaires would handle less than a day’s increase of the national debt.

If you have one million dollars in savings, and are making $60k a year income, and spending $70k a year, then you have a deficit, but this is not debt, because you are just paying the deficit from savings. This is sustainable only for a short term.

The deficit would be 1% of your savings, so there would be enough interest on the savings to cover the deficit. Sustainable as long as yields are above 1%.

And just to put that in perspective, $824 million is roughly what the Fed government spends to run the Smithsonian Institution… it’s 0.02% of the total budget, or the equivalent of kicking in $11 to the average American household budget.

Interest is included in income.