The New York Times reported the following story today:
Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program set up by the Treasury Department, came up with the largest number yet in testimony prepared for delivery Tuesday to a House committee, The New York Times’s Floyd Norris reported. “The total potential federal government support could reach up to $23.7 trillion,” he stated.
Mr. Barofsky explained that the estimate did not take into account recoverable assets but is rather a total risk estimate (my paraphrase.)
Let's do some math to put the size of such an amount in perspective: Say it's $24 trillion. (What's $300 billion between friends?) If one person has to pay for this, he will have to fork over all of the $23.7 trillion. Right? If a hundred million people have to pay this bill, it will cost each one $240,000. If three hundred million people have to pay, which is every man, woman and child in the U.S., each one would have to pay $80,000. So far, so good. (The math, that is.)
The administration argues that the bailout money will be raised from rich taxpayers; rich being those who earn more than $300,000 per year. They are members of a group no larger than 10% of the population. If it's up to them alone to carry this risk, they will have to pay $800,000 each, NOT counting the interest on it.
I don't know, but somewhere somebody didn't think this through.