The good news is that contestants in The Federal Report's Trillion Dollar Forecast--in which readers are trying to predict what day the national debt will reach $1,000,000,000,000--won't have to worry about competition from Rep. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). The bad news is that The Washington Post and the hundreds of readers who are entering the sweepstakes every day have incurred the congressman's disfavor.
"A $1 trillion public debt is not a time for frivolous contests and hoopla," Daschle grumbled in the Congressional Record last week. "The whimsical attitude of The Post to a public debt of $1 trillion is wrong and a disservice to the public . . . A $1 trillion public debt is. . . not cause for creating a carnival-like atmosphere."
Those who share the congressman's view need not send in the entry blank below, or any reasonable facsimile. But if you want to gain a reputation as an economic savant, get your picture in The Post, have lunch on The Post at your favorite local restaurant, and win some (minimally) valuable prizes, tell us what day you think the trillion-dollar milestone will come, and how large the debt will be at the close of business on that day.
You'd better hurry, because entries must be postmarked no later than the day before the banner day. According to the Treasury Department's latest tally--through the close of business on Oct. 1--the national debt stood at $998,947,000,000.