$60 Billion: The approximate amount that extending the Bush tax cuts on income above $250,000 a year — which Congress seems on the verge of doing — will cost a year, in inflation-adjusted terms. On average, the affluent households that benefit from these cuts will save $25,000 annually. What else might that $60 billion a year buy?
• As much deficit reduction as the elimination of earmarks, President Obama's proposed federal pay freeze, a 10 percent cut in the federal work force and a 50 percent cut in foreign aid — combined.
• A tripling of federal funding for medical research.
• Universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, with relatively small class sizes.
• A much larger troop surge in Afghanistan, raising spending by 60 percent from current levels.
• A national infrastructure program to repair and upgrade roads, bridges, mass transit, water systems and levees.
• A 15 percent cut in corporate taxes.
• Twice as much money for clean-energy research as suggested by a recent bipartisan plan.
• Free college, including room and board, for about half of all full-time students, at both four- and two-year colleges.
• A $500 tax cut for all households.
And Denver Post columnist Mike Littwin has this reminder about what would happen if the tax cuts expired for those making more than $250,000:
You have to understand, we're talking about marginal tax rates. The taxes don't change until you hit $250,000. If you make, say, $300,000 — and don't you wish? — your taxes go up 3 percent on the $50,000 above $250,000. If you can't do the math — and I'm guessing you can — you can afford to hire an accountant who will do it for you.