By Steven Perlberg
It only took 16 days, but the government shutdown managed to sap $24 billion out of the economy, according to S&P. That's $1.5 billion a day. "The bottom line is the government shutdown has hurt the U.S. economy," the S&P wrote. "Since our forecast didn't hold, we now have to lower our fourth-quarter growth estimate to closer to 2 percent."
$24 billion is a lot of money to willfully drain from the economy. So in order to make sure Washington doesn't let this happen again, we thought we'd give a roundup of what Congress could have purchased instead.
1. Almost 1.5 NASAs. NASA's 2014 budget is $16.6 billion.
2. Sent 554,413 kids to private college. The college board estimates it costs an average $43,289.
3. Or 1,078,119 kids to college in their home state. That costs an average $22,261 according to the College Board.
4. Every American could get 15 $5 Footlongs from Subway. That's 4.8 billion sandwiches.
5. Buy everyone in India a single long-stem rose from 1-800-Flowers.com. India has a population of 1.2 billion.
6. 11 days worth of Social Security. The U.S. spent $773 billion on Social Security in the fiscal year 2012.
7. Paid for the damage of Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Frances combined. 2004's Hurricanes Frances and Charley cost $9.85 billion and $15.1 billion, respectively.
8. Purchasing homes for 87,944 "average" Americans. The average new home price in the U.S. is $272,900, according to the 2010 Census.
9. Purchasing 8.3 billion free school lunches for children. Under the National School Lunch Program, the government reimburses a school $2.86 (or more) for a free lunch.
10. Buy 7.1 billion gallons of gas for Americans. The average gas price right now is $3.36.
11. Screening 141,176,470 women for breast cancer for free. The average cost of a mammogram is around the Medicare rate, $170, though of course prices vary based on location and insurance.