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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Here’s what you could buy with the $700 billion Congress wants to spend on defense

UPDATED: Sat., Nov. 11, 2017

Congress is talking about spending $700 billion on the nation’s defense next year, which, as the saying goes, ain’t chump change.

It will likely be described as the cost of security or the price of freedom in upcoming congressional debates, and that may be true. But such a large figure is a bit hard to grasp for the average consumer who complains when gasoline goes up 20 cents per gallon at the pump overnight or uses a preferred customer card at the supermarket to cut a couple of bucks off a week’s worth of milk, bread and vegetables.

So what could you buy with $700 billion in your wallet? Actually, having it in your wallet would be a problem because the highest denomination the U.S. Mint produces is the $100 bill. You’d need a wallet that could hold a stack almost 475 miles thick, which, if you’re in Spokane, would stick out of your pocket about 30 miles past Billings. You’d probably want to keep the cash in the bank, just to avoid standing out in a crowd. You’d also want to avoid the strain on your lower back from lugging some 15.4 million pounds of bills around.

You could make a bid to buy Apple, although the company has a current market value of $752 billion, so you’d have to be a really good negotiator. If there’s a string of bad reviews on the new iPhone, you might get a deal.

Or, you could try to buy Microsoft, currently valued at $507.5 billion, along with Starbucks, at $83 billion, and have a little left over – although not quite as much if word got out you were buying and asking prices went up.

Maybe you’d prefer real estate. The entire assessed value of Spokane County, both the taxable property you may own and the untaxed property entities like those belonging to the government, is about $51 billion. Assessed value in Washington usually runs below sale price on most property, but for $100 billion you could probably buy up Spokane County and add Kootenai County, which has a value listed at $12.5 billion.

Looking to concentrate on some smaller pieces of property? How about Safeco Field, finished in 1999 for $517 million, which translates into $765 million in 2017 dollars, and CenturyLink, which had a price tag of $360 million in 2002, which would be $495 million now? That would add up to $1.26 billion, which wouldn’t put much of a dent in your total, so you could throw in Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, which cost $62.6 million when it was finished in 1995, or about $101 million in current currency.

But remember, rich guys never pay for stadiums – they buy teams, then make fans and taxpayers come up with the money for a place to play.

The Seahawks are valued at $989 million, according to Forbes magazine, which is pretty reasonable compared to the Dallas Cowboys, worth an estimated $4 billion. Actually, you could buy the entire NFL, estimated total value $75 billion, and then you’d always have a team that won the Super Bowl.

Of course you’d also have 31 that didn’t.

It’s actually pretty hard to spend $700 billion. You’d need to shell out more than $1.9 billion a day, every day, for a year. To give your debit card a little rest, you might want to look at a few big ticket items.

The biggest ticket in the Northwest might be the Grand Coulee Dam, which was built in phases between 1933 and 1975. The federal government estimates its cost in 2017 dollars to be about $7.5 billion. For another $7.5 billion, you’d have the current cost of the region’s only nuclear power facility, the Columbia Generating Station.

You could blow most of your daily average on a B-2 bomber, which has a present day price tag of $1.43 billion fully loaded – although you can’t actually own a fully loaded one as a private citizen because there are some things it carries around the government doesn’t let you have. But even paying top list price, you’d have enough left over to buy a new KC-46A tanker so you could keep the bomber flying longer. They run $147.7 million each, unless Boeing wants to ding you for a share of the research and development costs – which would bump it to about $241 million.

You can afford to be generous and support science.

On almost any day of spending you’d probably have enough left over to buy a Lykan Hypersport, a limited edition sports car built in Dubai that goes from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds, hits speeds of 245 mph, has an aerodynamic carbon fiber body and headlights encrusted with diamonds – or rubies or sapphires, if you prefer. It retails for $3.4 million, although you may eventually need a full day’s average spending to pay for the speeding tickets and insurance. And maybe hire a chauffeur.

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