Heard on the Hill: What It Takes to Get $14.6 Trillion

Posted October 12, 2011 at 8:16pm

Forget the “Buffett Rule.” Rep. Jeff Flake has figured out a way to have cartoon characters shoulder part of the deficit load.

The Arizona Republican and apparent animation lover seized on recent reports of “The Simpsons” voice artists’ contract renegotiations to illustrate the immensity of our national debt.

Flake’s staff crunched the numbers and figured out that at $300,000 a pop per personality, a single “Simpsons” contributor would have to appear in 48.6 million more episodes — a tenure projected to last 2.4 million years — to offset the $14.6 trillion that we currently owe ourselves (and everyone else).

“A plan to pay off our debt? Woo hoo!” Flake joked in a release.

But why stop with the squiggly satirical denizens of Springfield?

We put pen to paper (OK, we used a calculator) and figured out how other entertainment industry heavies could contribute to the cause:

• 948,000: approximate number of seasons that Ashton Kutcher, who’s sitting on $15.4 million after snatching up the “Two and a Half Men” gig abandoned by disgruntled warlock Charlie Sheen, would need to bang out for CBS.

• 195,000: number of times that Johnny Depp, who reportedly raked in $300 million from participating in the four-picture (and counting) “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, would need to reprise his role as rummy rogue Jack Sparrow.

• 182,500: number of years that Howard Stern, who recently re-upped with SiriusXM satellite radio for five more years to the tune of $400 million, would have to continue broadcasting.

• 14,600: number of “Harry Potter” sequels that author J.K. Rowling, whose current seven-book catalog has purportedly enjoyed $7 billion in global sales, would need to pen (if she were a U.S. citizen …).

Now get to work, ya lazy bums.