FORT MYERS, Fla- As the U.S. Congress remains gridlocked on how to pay down America's growing 14.6 trillion dollar debt, some Americans have already taken matters in their own hands. U.S. Code 31 Section 3113 allows for the U.S. Treasury to accept donations to pay down the public debt. So we hit the streets of downtown Fort Myers to see if people would be willing to make their own donation.
We started with $2.00 donated by members of the WINK NEWS staff. After a few minutes of waiting, we received our first donation. Some people donated. Others walked on by. One woman told us, "Warren Buffet will. I know just where he lives in Omaha."
After more than half an hour, we raised ten dollars and three cents.
"You stay there about ten years you'll be alright," said one man who donated the change out of his pocket.
The Bureau of Public Debt tells us Americans have generously donated $2.035 million dollars so far this year. Americans gave $2.8 million in 2010 and $3 million in 2009.
We asked Florida Gulf Coast University economics professor Dr. Bradley Hobbs to put those numbers in perspective.
"They're completely insignificant," Hobbs told us, "It's a grain of sand in an ocean. The numbers we looked at were 2 million dollars. Two and a half million dollars that I believe people gift to the federal government to pay off debt. When you put two and a half million against 14 trillion dollars you have a number of such magnitude that we can't even show it to you on television."
Hobbs says part of the complexity of the debt is people can't even imagine a trillion dollars.
He says one way to try and visualize it is to imagine pallets of 100 dollar bills covering a football field. Then imagine stacking the pallets to the height of the Statue of Liberty.
I asked him if he thought Americans would voluntarily pay off that sum.
"I would bet very long odds against it and so would the bookies in Las Vegas," said Dr. Hobbs.
You can click here to read more about how to make a donation to pay off the public debt. We matched the donations we collected today and made an online donation of $20.00 to pay down the public debt.