Americans often put tremendous value on numbers, and rightfully so. We spent 2009 tracking the stock market, the president's approval ratings, interest rates and home values.
Reflecting on 2009, it became clear that numbers — whether in columns, tweets, ledger sheets, Facebook pages, bottom lines, televised speeches, bank accounts or the litany of legislation recently introduced — tell the real story. I've pored through many of them to bring you "The Numbers to Know in 2010."
— $459 billion: the size of the federal budget deficit in 2008.
— $1.587 trillion: the size of the federal budget deficit in 2009.
— 0: the number of House Republicans who voted for the stimulus bill.
— 1: the number of U.S. senators it took to blow up the public option in health-care reform.
— 60: the number of votes needed to move legislation in the U.S. Senate.
— 13,930: the estimated high-end number of H1N1-related deaths between April 2009 and November 2009.
— 2.9: the number of percentage points unemployment jumped between November 2008 (6.5 percent) and November 2009 (9.4 percent).
— 5.7 million: the number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job in 2008.
— 9.1 million: the number of people working part-time for the same reason in 2009.
— 119,874: the number of personal bankruptcy filings in 2009, as of this column.
— 358,471: the number of home foreclosures from September 2008 to August 2009.
— $3.65: the average price for a gallon of gas in September 2008.
— $2.59: the average price for a gallon of gas in September 2009.
— $99,000 (give or take): the price for one share of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway as of this writing.
— 5.07 percent: the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in 2009.
— 155: the number of lives saved by pilot Capt. Chesley Sullenberger's ability to land U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on — not in — the Hudson River.
— 41: the percentage of Americans in a recent NBC/WSJ poll who feel either very or somewhat positive about the Tea Party movement.
— 700,000: the number of cars sold under the "Cash for Clunkers" program.
— $22,000: the median debt faced by recent college graduates in 2009.
— 1,100: the total square footage of the new White House vegetable garden planted by Michelle Obama and 23 fifth-graders from Bancroft Elementary School.
— $439 million: the average amount districts held by Democrats received in federal stimulus money.
— $232 million: the average amount districts held by Republicans received in federal stimulus money.
— 20: the number of city blocks between the former World Trade Center site and the federal courthouse where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the accused masterminds of 9/11, will be tried.
Had enough? Well, me too. But here's one more:
— 7: The number of weeks New Orleanians will pray that the Saints make it to Super Bowl XLIV. Who 'dat? My hometown team!
I'd like to end 2009 with my own version of New Orleans' famous gospel hymn and funeral march. Raise a glass of cheer and sing along with me:
"Here come the Saints, go marching in
Super Bowl Saints, will march on in!
Lord, how I want them to be number one 'cause the Saints will never reign again!"
Happy New Year!
Donna Brazile is a political commentator on CNN, ABC and NPR; contributing columnist to Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill; and former campaign manager for Al Gore.