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By Willoughby Mariano April 13, 2011

U.S. Rep. Broun said weekly debt grows by $60 billion

The political carnival otherwise known as the federal budget debate was chock-full of partisan fun and games.

For instance, congressional leaders played chicken for weeks over the amount of cuts. Republicans wanted about $61 billion, while Democrats hoped for $33 billion. They reached a deal for roughly $39 billion in cuts late Friday night, about an hour before a federal shutdown.

They also played the blame game. Democrats and Republicans spent the days before the shutdown trying to convince the public that whatever happened, it was the other party’s fault.

In an April 1 speech before Congress, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun played pin the blame on the donkey.

"It’s pitiful that the Democrats have wasted so much time stalling over these minimal cuts in their own self-interest while our country is financially bleeding to death," the Athens Republican said.

"We should be focused on trying to revive our economy rather than bickering about $61 billion dollars when we already borrow almost $60 billion per week."  

The federal government borrows $60 billion per week? PolitiFact Georgia decided to take a closer look.

Broun was one of four members of the 13-member Georgia congressional delegation who rejected Friday’s budget compromise. Republican Rep. Tom Graves of Ranger and Democratic Reps. John Lewis of Atlanta and Hank Johnson of Lithonia joined him.

Republican dissenters thought the cuts didn’t go far enough. Democrats thought they were too deep. Neither camp had much impact. The House voted 348-70 to accept the deal.

More information about Broun’s spending figures were close at hand. A pair of deficit hawks, U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Mark Warner, D-Va., barnstormed Atlanta on Monday to explain why Congress needs to cut the deficit soon.

PolitiFact Georgia marked the occasion by fact checking an op-ed they co-wrote that claimed "An average of $4 billion is added to the national debt" every day. We rated the claim Mostly True.

This is what we determined:

There are two kinds of federal debt and interest -- the debt held by the public and the total debt. About $9.65 trillion of the $14.25 trillion debt is held by the public. The rest is money the government loans to itself. Both measures of the federal debt are valid.

Between the end of 2009 and April 6, 2011, the public debt had risen by an average of slightly more than $4 billion a day. This year, the debt has risen by about $2.6 billion a day.

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The total debt’s average daily increase for that same time period was about $4.3 billion. In 2011, the total debt has risen by about $2.45 billion a day.

These figures show Broun’s claim that the government borrows "$60 billion" each week misses the mark.

The debt held by the public grew on average about $28 billion per week between the end of 2009 and April 6, 2011. The total debt grew by about $30.1 billion.

This year, the weekly growth has declined to $17.15 billion or $21 billion, depending on which debt measure you use. Neither comes close to $60 billion.

We asked Broun’s office about the discrepancy. Broun spokeswoman Meredith Griffanti said he must have misspoke. Broun meant to say that the federal government borrows nearly $60 billion every two weeks.

Since Broun got his numbers wrong, we rate his claim False.

Our Sources, "Congressman Broun speech on Government Shutdown Prevention Act," posted April 1, 2011

E-mail interview, Meredith Griffanti, press secretary, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, April 12, 2011

PolitiFact Georgia, "Senators ring alarm about ‘$4 billion’ daily debt," April 11, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "The battle over the 2011 federal budget that grabbed headlines last week had been brewing for more than a year," April 10, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Compromise bill splits delegation," April 10, 2011

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U.S. Rep. Broun said weekly debt grows by $60 billion

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