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Earlier this year I looked in my crystal ball and made a prediction on the size of the deficit this year. (BTW, when I say "deficit" I mean the amount the Federal Debt goes up.)

Rabit predicts US deficit of $700B or 6% of GDP
Date: 1/4/04 8:21 PM

So we are almost to the end of the 2004 fiscal year and I've been checking in with the public debt page from time to time to see how we are doing. Revenues improved dramatically during the year, and I could see that my estimate was going to be high.

Debt Held by Public Intragovt. Holdings Total
08/31/2004 4,298,491,873,263.92 3,052,458,361,366.23 7,350,950,234,630.15
09/30/2003 3,924,090,106,880.88 2,859,140,955,862.74 6,783,231,062,743.62

By the end of August (11 months into the FY) the deficit stood at $568 billion. I figured it would certainly pass the $600 billion mark by the close of the year.

On Sept. 1, 2004 the debt rose by $4 billion.
On Sept. 2 it jumped up another $11 billion.
On Sept. 3 $1 billion more.
Over the Labor Day weekend it rose by $2 billion.
On Wednesday, Sept. 8, we added another 8 billion dollars of debt.

On this day the total federal debt stood at 7,376,457,871,529.81 dollars or $593 billion more than the end of the previous fiscal year. Yep, $600 billion coming right up.

But then a miracle happened. The next day, Sept. 9, the debt went down to $7,375,299,845,541.56! And the day after that it declined again. And the subsequent day.

By Sept. 17 the debt had fallen to 7,347,867,800,168.01. Could this be be due to divine intervention? God bless these United States of America.

But I must say I was a mite suspicious. Persistent shortfalls in revenue don't dissappear overnight. So I got to thinking: just what is the federal debt limit now? It wasn't that easy to find but I came up with this:

The national debt is the total amount of money that the federal government has borrowed over the years and not yet repaid. The debt has risen rapidly since 2001 and Congress was forced to increase the debt limit – the amount of money the federal government can legally borrow – in 2002 and 2003. The current debt limit is $7.384 trillion and the debt limit will have to raised again soon to cover the unsustainable economic policies of the Bush Administration that have been adopted by Congress. To avoid a painful vote on raising the debt ceiling, the Leadership of the House snuck a provision into a must-pass defense spending measure that will allow Congress to raise the debt ceiling without a full debate and a separate vote. Representative Levin strongly opposed sneaking the debt increase into the defense budget without a vote.

$7.384 trillion dollars! And just how close did we get when the miracle happened?

$7.376 trillion dollars. Just $8 billion shy of the limit.

What an amazing coincidence. Not only does God love America but (s)he loves the Republicans even more. Because surely Bush would rather not be asking Congress to raise the debt limit a month and a half before the election.

Is this a great country or what?


P.S. The total debt as of yesterday is holding steady at $7,355,549,381,552.24 Comfortably below the limit.

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