September 9th, 2008
06:10 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: The numbers

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

Unless you’re the state of Alaska, chances are your budget isn’t pretty these days. Uncle Sam is really looking ugly. In one year, the nation’s budget deficit is up 153%. That's a lot more than double. The Congressional Budget Office today predicted the deficit will balloon to $407 BILLION. Why such a bleak forecast? "The nation is experiencing a significant period of economic weakness," said Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office.

I’m no economist, but I think he’s on to something.


One way to hurt any budget: splashing a pedestrian. It could cost you thousands…not to mention lead to a failed driving test.


I love trees. The cool embrace of that shady spot in the midst of summer’s heat, fall’s glorious show of color, even the stark, empty branches against a gray winter sky can bring a smile to my face. From our offices we have a bird’s eye view of Central Park’s trees. I love watching the white buds of spring dot the Park and slowly become a canvas of green. The scraggly bark seems to hide a warm, soft heart within...a bit like a gruff Grampa. I love the history and the strength of trees on so many levels.

Despite my love and admiration, however, I can’t imagine moving into a tree for nearly two years.


Hockey scores are a bit like those from soccer matches: low. Forget double-digits, these games rarely see one side score five goals. When a hockey match ends 82-0, you can’t help but notice. That works out to more than one goal per minute of play…not good for the losing side. The winning team called it “training”.

Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Alex Duthie

    How can the Americans believe Palin's claim to be able to change Washington? If change is needed in Washington it is the GOP that has to change. What happened to her position with the bridge to nowhere, first she was for it but the GOP establishment forced her to toe the party line. Just a glimpse into the future,
    After viewing the Democratic convention with all the upbeat messages, it was a sure downer when Giuliani spoke his ridiculous negative spin speech. Lies to the rest of us means spin in Washington, What a hypocrisy..

    September 9, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  2. michael nadolski

    Can someone tell me the difference between the taxing of big oil in Alaska, where the extra money that has given Alaska a HUGE SURPLUS, and has given money back to the citizens...any different to the WINDFALL PROFIT TAX that has been proposed by Senator Obama?

    September 9, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  3. Nancy

    Why isn't the press doing the math for people? Alaskans get something like $4000 per person in federal spending on Alaska. They pay a lot less in federal taxes per person. So the rest of the country is giving lots of money to Alaska, which would be fine if the state actually needed it. But with taxes on oil, the state has such a surplus that they are getting over $2000/person per year from the state, plus an extra $1200 this year. So why are we sending checks to Alaska???? And how can Palin justify all the earmarks requested on the Alaska wishlist for 2008? It's just huge.

    Could someone do the math here?

    September 9, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  4. sara.ro

    Hi Erica,
    always you know how show the poetical hand mixed with the realiity of mathematics.We are lucky.

    September 9, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  5. Lorna

    Hi Erica! Hi everyone!

    I agree with Nate up to a point (point B). The bailout of Bear Stearns and the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will cost the country and the money will come from the taxpayers.
    However, how could McCain actually help in this (perhaps, I'm not very well informed) when:
    1) he promises drastic (an unrealistic) tax cuts –> hence, lower tax revenues and less chance to get rid of our debt?
    2) thinks that the ongoing war in Iraq has been a success and would keep the troops there longer –> hence more deficit spending –> and more government bonds sold to other countries like China?

    Love for the country and heroism does not guarantee you a healthy economy. I really do respect Sen. McCain. However, I stick to my opinion (correct me if I'm wrong): McCain, no matter how different from Bush, will still adhere to the GOP platform, which historically has leaned to more lenient policies toward business and corporations.

    – As for point A: how can the American people save when prices have skyrocketed and their disposable income is shrinking every day?

    September 9, 2008 at 9:52 pm |
  6. Michael

    When will America face the music?! Its time the US recognized the pain it will face by continuously running multi-billion dollar deficits. I suggest that you take a page out of Canada's book. In the early 1990's Canada's spending was out of control and our net debt level had ballooned to 71% of GDP. Thanks to strong leadership and a national ideological shift, Canadians took charge of the situation, made the difficult and painful sacrifices that were necessary, passed laws against gov't deficits, and slayed that beast. We've now run surpluses every year since 1996, reduced our net debt by 25% and brought it down to only 23% of GDP, by far the best ratio in the G7. With the national debt on track to hit zero by 2021 or sooner, billions of dollars that would have gone to interest payments are now and will be available for health, education, and tax relief. Neither Obama or McCain are being honest with Americans about the sacrifices and commitment required (NOW) to pay the piper. May your grandchildren forgive you!

    September 9, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  7. mike in central va

    nate, mccain is of that mindset. he has started doing and saying anything, be it big lie or little lie, to obtain his goal. pathetic as this tactic is, to me its scares me because i already work sixty to sixty-five hrs per week to support my family. so please try to think outside your own little box.

    September 9, 2008 at 9:31 pm |
  8. Joyce

    I agree with Nate. Oversight is lacking! Although, the polls may show McCain is ahead by a bit, I have the idea that come voting day...Obama will win. People are frankly tired of the retarded cowboy and his posse. We need CHANGE!

    Isn't America built on the idea of democracy? Isn't China a republic? Hmm..we get the picture. Democrats have it right. They don't mix religion with their politics. Republicans do. Abortion is not a political issue. Is it based on what people feel the Bible would tell them. If that's the case, let it lie within their church and let them draw from that. If someone who is raped, etc, wants to have an abortion, let them. It's not my life and I'm not going to tell them how to live theirs.

    I am tired of the fighting, though. The attacks. I just want to move on and upward. I struggle. I have a college degree, excellent grades, and yet I'm making $12.45 an hour and have been working at the same company for 8 years. See a problem? I do..I think I need to work for Anderson Cooper because that would at least be interesting. My job is so lame and the people I work with...not far off that base. Thanks!

    Keep up the Great Work Erica & Anderson. Y'all make me giggle (a lot!)

    September 9, 2008 at 8:57 pm |
  9. Greg Miller

    82 to 0 should be the score of the Dems over the Republicans after 8 years of Bush. Again the Dems figured out a way to lose.
    No Clinton on the ticket = no Presidency. Even Bill Clinton would have worked. When faced with a choice, Obama choce Biden? This proves that Obama does not know how the game is played yet. Biden is a good guy but lacks the political muscle that he needs as an insider and a so called agent of change.
    The electoral college will reflect his in just about 2 weeks. Obama will have a great grass roots system out there to get people to vote so he will win the popular vote. Clinton showed McCain how to beat Obama and at least his advisors listened.

    Look at Clintons face side by side when she speaks now compard to when she really had no shot earlier this year. Her smile is genuine, the "vote for Obama" words are not.

    The Christian Right hijacked the GOP but that is mostly over now. The "Ethnic" vote has hijacked the Democratic party for the time being but this was done in a way that was not comfortable.

    last minute voter decisions will go to Mccain. If you have not bought tickets to the Obama Show then you will not even be able to get face value for them on EBAY in a couple of weeks.


    September 9, 2008 at 8:35 pm |
  10. JC- Los Angeles

    Here in California, our economy is in tatters due to endless mortgage fraud, people living well beyond their means, skyrocketing foreclosures and the high cost of fighting natural disasters.

    With thousands walking from their homes each day, the tax base for towns is infinitesimal compared to the past; towns and counties could face bankruptcies.

    Although Arnold was ubiquitous during the boom, he has been absent during the bust; maybe he's busy working on the budget?

    September 9, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  11. Heather

    Mr Walker who used to be in charge of the GAO says that the government keeps three different books for our countrys budget. I noticed that no one who is running for the big house is talking about our national debt.

    I feel bad for the trees. Its one thing when a bird or a small animal hangs out for a little while. But for grown people to have a sit in on a tree just seems a bit odd. I understand the intentions but there are other trees and wouldn't it be better to enjoy the tree by sitting under it.

    September 9, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  12. Jim- Kearny, NJ

    Hi Erica!

    Let's see, 407 billion dollars divided by 300 million American equals $1,356.67 each ( before interest , no doubt compounded hourly by financial institutions that are owned and/or controlled by the inner circle of those in the highest reaches of power) to make up the budget deficit. I'm no economist either, but it seems like a bargain to run 2 wars, bail out the mortgage companies, absorb the loss of corporate tax revenue, refuse kids health care and support Bush's tax cuts for the rich for $1,356.67 each.

    Many years ago, I was riding with a friend who saw a big puddle and a well-dressed guy walking alongside it. It was very out of character, but he soaked him. I was appalled. Just thought I'd share : )

    Glad you mentioned Central Park. It's one of my favorite places in the world. I get a warm, fuzzy And I'm also glad you got one of thoses offices that you can see the park from. The trees are much nicer to look at than 9th Avenue.

    Note to Bulgaria: Get out of the hockey business. Sometimes you just have to know when it's time to get out. You guys have had some decent soccer teams so maybe your time and effort would be better spent going in that direction. I'm saying this as a friend.

    Have a great night,


    September 9, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  13. Lilibeth

    82-0 on a hockey game? I feel sorry for the losers...that must have been really embarrassing. If I were the coach of the losing team, I would have asked the referee to end the game after 10 goals. The team just wasn't in it at all. Why even play the game when you're heart's not in it?

    Edmonds, Washington

    September 9, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  14. Jennifer - Michigan

    Hi Erica,
    Likewise about the trees. It's so nice to watch the trees change through the seasons, one of life's treasures for sure. Sounds like a great view from your office there too. Do you see the Redtail hawks that reside at Central Park often? That would be such a sight. The wide array of wildlife in the park is pretty amazing being so close to the city. Anyway, very cool. I hope I can stay awake for tonight's live blog – we'll see. Have a good day, see you later.

    September 9, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  15. Genevieve M, TX

    So you can fail a British driving test for splashing pedestrians?!?! That's rather harsh, isn't it?

    I really try not to splash people when I am driving, but sometimes, it cannot be avoided. I do have splash guards installed on every vehicle I own. It is not only for the purpose of preserving the car's finish and prevent damage from road hazards- but also to prevent splashing people and other cars while driving.

    I know they work because I have never (while driving) been splashed nor had a 'wall of water' hit my car from another car that had the splash guards.

    September 9, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  16. nate

    The fundamental problem with the current US economy is two fold: a) Lack of personal fiscal responsibility on behalf of the public at large and b) Lack of fundamental government oversight to ensure that no industry takes advantage of the public. The laws that are currently on the books as well as the enforcement and regulatory oversight programs that are currently in place are sufficient enough to prevent the "Enrons" of this nation. This is where our current Adminstration had failed us. They rather play to their political supports than do what is right for the American people. I do not think John McCain is of this mindset. He truly loves this country and its citizens. He will ensure that the laws are enforced properly and that no industry is bailed out as a consequence of their lack of fiduciary responsibility. The first point regarding personal fiscal responsibility on behalf of this public has more to do with the mindset of this nation: spend first and save later. It is only a matter of time before we as a nation become overextended financially and will have to start rolling up our sleeves to pay the bills.

    September 9, 2008 at 7:11 pm |
  17. eric

    How's the budget in Chicago doing these days?

    September 9, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  18. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Our state budget hasn't been passed here in CA and is approaching 70 days operating without one. We're billions in the hole thanks to uncontrolled spending (we spent $41 billion more last year then the year before). Millons go to support the illegals in this state through education, welfare and medical benefits all at the taxpayer's expense. Even though we have the highest Sales Tax, Income Tax and Gas Tax in the nation, we are seriously in trouble with layoffs looming for teachers and those employed by the city and state. There's actually a recall attempt against Governor Schwarzenegger because of this.

    82-0 is an absolute clinic! I would've been bored out of my mind to see such a one-sided game.

    September 9, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  19. owens

    Sarah Palin Just bull, No pit, that dog only barks she want hunt.
    Please remind Sarah that the military is ran by community organizers, she has insulated our military.

    September 9, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
  20. Alexander

    Erica, we've been in some form of economic turmoil and 'weakness' for quite some time now. Hopefully, we can get out of this 'weakness' before too long.: ) Hope your evening is going well.: )

    September 9, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  21. Dennis McHenry

    Palin has touted the surplus returned to Alaskan taxpayers to the tune of $1400 per person.Has anybody connected that surplus to the "Bridge to Nowhere" money that was put into state coffers? Does anyone else think it is wrong to take cash frome the rest of the US citizens and directly distribute it to Alaskans?

    September 9, 2008 at 6:26 pm |