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Former U.S. Sen. George Allen recently ripped Democrats for growing government and exploding the national debt.
"Election Day 2010 saw the culmination of years of aggravation and resentment toward a federal government that became disconnected and disdainful of the values and priorities of Americans," Allen wrote in a Nov. 5 Op/Ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "People are rightfully riled by bailouts of failed automobile manufacturers, health care dictates, energy restrictions, and the unprecedented expansion of government spending and dangerous debt -- nearly $6 trillion more than when President Obama was sworn into office."
Whoa. Did he say $6 trillion more in debt? Since January 2009? That’s a statistic we hadn’t heard before. So we decided to look into it.
According to the U.S. Treasury, the total national debt as of Jan. 31, 2009 -- 11 days after President Obama took office -- was $10.6 trillion. So, in order for Allen’s claim to be true on its face, the current publicly held debt would have to be about $16.6 trillion.
Well, is it?
Nope, not even close. The publicly held debt as of Oct. 31 was $13.7 trillion, almost $3 trillion short of Allen’s claim.
Asked for a source, Tim Nussbaum, Allen’s executive assistant, cited an Oct. 18 CBS News report on the nation’s rising debt.
That report also finds that the debt has risen by almost $3 trillion, but adds: "The administration has projected the national debt will soar in Mr. Obama's fourth year in office to nearly $16.5-trillion in 2012. That's more than 100 percent of the value of the nation's economy and $5.9-trillion above what it was his first day on the job."
To check that, we turned to the Office of Management and Budget to to look at future debt estimates based on the current fiscal 2011 budget.
If $16.335 trillion qualifies as "nearly $16.5 trillion," then the CBS report is right.
But is Allen? Let’s take a look back to decide.
Allen’s language in the Op/Ed plainly implies the Obama administration's actions have already caused the debt to rise $6 trillion. That’s simply wrong. The debt has risen by $3.1 trillion since Obama took office.
For that reason, we find Allen’s claim to be False.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Keep Promises to ‘We the People’", Nov. 5, 2010
U.S. Treasury, October 2010 monthly statement of the public debt, accessed Nov. 6, 2010
U.S. Treasury, January 2009 monthly statement of the public debt, accessed Nov. 6, 2010
Office of Management and Budget, "Federal Debt at the End of the Year, 1940–2015" (Historical table 7.1), accessed Oct. 22, 2010
Office of Management and Budget, Fiscal Year 2011 Mid-Session Review, accessed Nov. 8, 2010
CBS News, "National Debt up $3 Trillion on Obama’s Watch", Oct. 18, 2010.
Interview with Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Nov. 8, 2010
E-mail interview with Tim Nussbaum, executive assistant to George Allen.
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