One ploy that Republicans will be trying to avoid during this election year is the Democrats' attempt to deflect attention from the economy.

Last week, after Rush Limbaugh created a media firestorm for his comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said it was right for Limbaugh to apologize but that President Obama acted "opportunistically" when he called Fluke to express his disappointment in Limbaugh's dialogue. Gingrich said Obama thus was able to deflect attention against the crisis he created with the Catholic Church over contraception and with the religious community as a whole over religious liberty.

Moral and social issues will be important to many voters this November but for the great majority of people, it will once again come down to the economy.

Both parties attempt to spin the economic numbers in their favor. Obama and his supporters will be telling us the economy is in better shape or as White House Spokesman Jay Carney has said, "vastly improved" today than when his boss took office.

GOP opponents will argue that Obama's policies have only made a bad situation worse. What concerns many Americans is the nation's unemployment rate, which was 7.8 percent when Obama took office, climbed to a high of 10.1 percent in October 2009 and now stands at 8.3 percent.

They will point to the fact that along with jamming a national health care plan through, the Obama administration's fiscal policy has been a disaster. In the first three years under Obama, the national debt increased by 50-percent, adding $1.5 trillion for each of his years in office.

The debt is now more than $15 trillion, a figure many of us have trouble grasping. This breakdown might help:

Ÿ It takes 12 days to count off one million seconds and 32 years for a billion seconds to tick away. One trillion seconds will take 31,688 years to elapse. Now multiply that by 14 and you have an idea of the size of this dark hole.

Ÿ Over the last year, the government borrowed approximately $2.5 million every minute. About $4.6 trillion of the total debt is money that the government has borrowed from itself, by writing IOUs for huge sums taken from Social Security and Medicare surpluses.

Ÿ The Treasury Department estimates that our debt to China is approximately $1.16 trillion, which is nearly $15,000 in debt for the average family.

If this debt keeps growing and under Obama it's been a runaway train eventually this country won't have enough money to pay the interest. That will leave two options: default or inflation.

The alternative to defaulting on our loans is to borrow more money from the Federal Reserve by printing more dollars. In order to buy back bonds, the Obama administration has printed money, and this can pave the way for hyperinflation.

Once a cycle of government-caused inflation begins rolling, it is very hard to reverse, which Germany found during the 1930s and into World War 2. Historians also point to when spending and deficits soared during the Herbert Hoover administration, leading us into the Great Depression.

Setting all these dismal national numbers aide, however, the greatest motivation moving Americans to the polls this fall will depend on how much spending money they have left in their pockets after their last trip to the gas pumps, or to the market for groceries.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com