Sure, it’s not as sexy a number as hearing that the debt of the United States is around $10.7 Trillion dollars, but it’s scary enough to learn that the federal budget deficit expanded by $83.6 billion in December, bringing the total deficit for the first three months of the 2009 fiscal year to $485.2 billion. That higher than it was the entire year of 2008!

Supposedly, the deficit went up because the U.S. started spending some of that $7.2 trillion dollars of bailout money, which I kind of said I was against when I gave my top five plan for turning the economy around. And yet, even with this, we have Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke suggesting that the Obama administration should tap a $700 billion financial rescue fund and help shore up the banking industry. My goodness, when will it all end?

The United States has less money because it’s spending more in unemployment, while taking in less on taxes because people don’t have jobs. My little plan above took a part of that into consideration by saying that this country needs to focus more on helping some of these companies keep people employed, because that’s really the only way we’re going to pull out of all these problems.

Here I was, earlier this evening, reading a story about a Westchester County, NY hospital about to lay off 400 people, which includes closing a nursing home, to try to close a major budget deficit. Depending on who you talk about, healthcare has either shown great resiliency in this economic downturn, or is suffering along with everyone else and then some, and the above example shows that even healthcare entities are looking at cutting people and holding onto the money they have in new ways.

I know a few things about hospitals and how they could help improve their revenue stream, but that’s a conversation for another time. Of course, we have to balance what’s going on with hospitals against news like Med Assets reported today, maintaining its 2008 forecasts, and giving a small boost to profits in 2009. In afternoon trading, MedAssets stock advanced $1.20, or 10.4 percent, to $13.07. That’s not bad when we know that the Dow actually went down 23 points today.

Whereas everyone else checks currency rates to see how the dollar is faring against the Japanese yen, I like to stick closer to home. This means I compare the U.S. dollar against the Canadian dollar, to see how much my money will get me in Canadian denominations. Just three years ago the American dollar would get you the equivalent of $1.66 in Canada; as of today, it’s down to $1.21, which is still higher than a year ago, when the Canadian dollar had actually caught up with the American dollar. Still, it doesn’t show how strong the American dollar really is as much as how much it’s starting to devalue itself as our country has to create more money to be spend by the government.

All of this, and Mr. Obama hasn’t even taken office yet. I hope that, in a week when he becomes president, he is able to get his stimulus package into play, so that we can hopefully get on the road to recovery, and my prediction that, by summer, things will start looking better comes true.