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Democrat Tim Kaine was not offering praise when he said Americans are indebted for Republican George Allen’s former service in the U.S. Senate.
The national debt increased "by $16,000 every second of the six years he served," Kaine said in a Dec. 7 debate with Allen. The two former governors are running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jim Webb, D-Va., who will not seek reelection next year.
Allen served in the Senate from 2001 to 2007, narrowly losing a reelection bid to Webb. Kaine, during the debate, criticized Allen for consistently supporting Bush administration policies that Kaine said began the federal debt crisis.
We were curious if the national debt really did increase by $16,000 every second Allen was in the Senate. So we unsheathed our calculators and went to work.
Allen served 2,193 days in the Senate -- from Jan. 3, 2001 to Jan. 4, 2007. That’s 189,475,200 seconds.
We visited a U.S. Department of Treasury website to determine the national debt on each date. Rounding off, it started at $5.72 trillion and ended at $8.67 trillion.
That’s a $2.95 trillion increase during Allen’s term. The exact figure, if you’re interested, is $2,947,358,803,409.45.
That means the national debt rose an average $15,555.38 each second Allen was in the Senate. You can reach Kaine’s $16,000 estimate by rounding up.
There’s an issue, however, in holding Allen accountable for every appropriation from the day he entered the Senate to the day he left. The federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. The first spending votes Allen cast in the Senate were for the budget that began Oct. 1, 2001 -- some nine months after he entered office. And the last ones Allen cast were for the budget that ended Sept. 30, 2007 -- almost nine months after he left office.
So, the real period of influence Allen had on federal spending ran from Oct. 1, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2007. The national debt rose by $3.202 billion during that span and, as we pointed out in a Truth-O-Meter earlier this year, Allen voted for each of about four dozen appropriation bills that came to the Senate floor during his term.
In other words, Allen voted for budgets that increased the debt by $16,896.68 every second he was in the Senate. That’s slightly higher than Kaine’s estimate.
But before you get angry at Allen, consider this: The debt has increased by $48,994.13 a second since Barack Obama became president. And Kaine, who served as Obama’s hand-picked chairman of the Democratic National Committee for two years before resigning in April, is a staunch defender of the president.
Kaine says the national debt increased by $16,000 every second Allen served in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2007.
The actual number, from the day Allen entered the Senate to the day he left, is $15,555.38 per second. Kaine reasonably rounded up.
Allen voted for budgets that increased the debt by $16,896.68 a second.
We rate Kaine’s statement True.
Tim Kaine, U.S. Senate debate, Dec. 7, 2011.
TreasuryDirect,The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It.
PolitiFact Virginia, Jamie Radtke says debt grew by $16,000 every second of Allen’s term, Jan. 23, 2011.
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