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Truth-O-Meter dishes up weekend rulings on school lunch program, national debt

By Caryn Shinske
Published on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 7:30 a.m.

Lots of numbers thrown at the Truth-O-Meter this weekend resulted in opposite rulings for two Republican lawmakers.

In case you missed it, the Truth-O-Meter on Sunday rated False a claim by state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-Warren) that more than a third of New Jersey children receiving free and reduced-price lunches at school were ineligible to do so. On Monday, the Truth-O-Meter rated True a claim by Rep. Leonard Lance  (R-7th Dist.) that the size of the nation’s debt is almost that of the entire economy.

Doherty claim

Doherty was comparing oranges and tangerines when he claimed that 37 percent of the 428,000 New Jersey children receiving free or reduced-price lunches weren’t eligible for those discounts, PolitiFact New Jersey found.

Doherty erred by applying to everyone findings for a select few. Specifically, the federal government requires schools to audit 3 percent of the total number of school lunch applications they receive. From that pool – not the complete 428,000 --  37 percent were deemed ineligible after the applications were pulled for further review of questionable income information.

Lance claim

Every American can kick off the holiday season being an additional $47,900 in debt now that the nation’s total debt is on track to hit $15 trillion, Lance said when he spoke Wednesday on the House floor in support of a balanced budget amendment. The amendment failed Friday.

In making his claim, Lance noted that the nation’s debt has climbed high enough to nearly equal the country’s gross domestic product, or the value of all goods and services in the United States. He was right.

Coming attractions

In coming weeks PolitiFact New Jersey will put out a newsletter for readers about our fact checks and what’s coming up for the Truth-O-Meter. If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter, drop a note with your email address to PolitiFact New Jersey Editor Caryn Shinske at cshinske@starledger.com. You can also follow @PolitiFactNJ on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

Check out the complete stories on Doherty’s and Lance’s statements at PolitiFactNJ.com and then join the conversations about them at NJ.com. 

About this article:


PolitiFact New Jersey, "Nearly 160,000 students in New Jersey's school lunch program are ineligible, state senator says," Nov. 19, 2011, accessed Nov. 21, 2011

PolitiFact New Jersey, "Leonard Lance says when national debt hits $15 trillion it will equal $47,900 for every living American," Nov. 20, 2011, accessed Nov. 21, 2011

Researchers: Caryn Shinske

Names in this article: Michael Doherty, Leonard Lance

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