$8 Trillion!

U.S. taxpayers are now officially on the hook for an astonishing, mind-numbing, ludicrously intolerable $8 trillion in financial sector bailouts. Woohoo! Eight trillion bucks! That’s gotta be some kind of record! USA! USA! USA!

And now on a more serious note, we’re screwed. It’s all but impossible to describe that number in a way that’s easy to visualize, except to say that U.S. National Debt currently stands at $10.6 trillion and the U.S. Gross Domestic Product–basically the sum total of the nation’s entire economy–is $13.8 trillion. Check out CNBC for a good breakdown of where the money is actually going and the immensely readable Propublica investigative journalism website for solid context and commentary.

“We privatize profits; we socialize losses,” former U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Director Michael Greenberger told NPR’s Terry Gross back in September when projected bailout figures hovered nowhere near $8 trillion. And what’s more, no one really knows how long this can continue. While it’s easy to say that the election of Barack Obama represents a complete rejection of the Bush Administration’s policies (or lack of policies) that led to the housing collapse and credit crunch in the first place, those who look carefully at this chart listing Obama’s top contributors and then at this one identifying banks getting taxpayer bailouts may find it hard to be optimistic.

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