George W. Bush's presidency cost the country about $11.5 trillion, if we estimate liberally.
Of course, it's debatable how much blame the president should bear.
Over the past eight years, we've suffered calamities that were bound to damage the nation deeply: two recessions, the most lethal terrorist attacks ever on U.S. soil, the invasion of Iraq on dubious grounds, the near destruction of one of our most storied cities and, finally, the Wall Street meltdown.
Because the median U.S. household income is about $50,000, readers may have trouble grasping the concept of spending trillions.
For context, let's compare two cases of extraordinary spending under Bush.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Washington pledged $22 billion to help rebuild in lower Manhattan. At the time, that sum sounded enormous. It was more than one-fourth of the $80 billion budget that New York state had adopted a month before. Though some called for even more aid, the country at large was satisfied that this response was adequate to cope with calamity on a colossal scale.
Oh, how far we've come.
In early October of 2008, Congress appropriated $700 billion to rescue Wall Street's financial institutions. Once that was done, the sky was the limit, and the numbers became dizzying.
And the spending won't stop after Bush leaves office Jan. 20.
In hopes of "breaking the momentum" of the current recession, President-elect Barack Obama is reportedly drafting a stimulus package that would cost the government as much $850 billion. If past is precedent, it's unlikely Obama will stop there.
Talk back: Where should we cut future U.S. spending?
The new administration is already expected to inherit a $1.2 trillion deficit from Bush. The stimulus package would add to that record-breaking number.
Picture an avalanche of cash disappearing into the Potomac.
Where has all the money gone? Here are five areas where Bush has approved massive outlays of taxpayer money.