Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.
Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.
I would like to contribute
Jamie Radtke was not being kind when she said Americans are indebted for George Allen’s former service in the U.S. Senate.
Radtke, a Tea Party organizer, is the first announced candidate in an expected large GOP primary field for the U.S. Senate next year. Allen, a fellow Republican, is signalling he’s on the verge of declaring he will seek to regain the seat he held for one term before losing to Democrat Jim Webb in 2006.
Radtke fired a warning shot at Allen along with a challenge to meet monthly across Virginia and debate "the serious problems facing America."
"For example, during Sen. Allen’s six years in office, he voted for budgets adding $3.1 trillion to the national debt -- that’s $16,400 for every second Sen. Allen was in office," Radtke said in a Jan. 17 news release.
That’s the price of a brand new, four-door Chevy Cobalt for ever second Allen was in the Senate 2001 and 2007, according to a Google search. We revved our engines to see if Radtke is right.
Chuck Hansen, a spokesman for Radtke, said they based their calculation on the national debt growth between the last day of 2001 and the final day of 2007.
That was a mistake. 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 three months before Radtke started counting.
And the last spending votes Allen cast were for the budget that started Oct. 1, 2006 -- five weeks before his defeat -- and ended Sept. 30, 2007. That’s some three months before Radtke stopped counting.
So our period runs from Oct. 1, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2007.
Next, we visited a U.S. Department of Treasury website to determine the national debt on each date. Rounding off, it started at $5.806 trillion and ended at $9.008 trillion.
That means federal budgets passed during Allen’s term increased debt by $3.202 trillion. Did the former Senator approve all of it?
Congress does not hold simple up or down votes on the federal budget. Instead, it votes on a series of appropriations for various department. We turned to THOMAS, a Library of Congress web site that records the action on Capitol Hill. We found Allen supported each of about four dozen appropriation bills that came to Senate floor during his term.
So we made no deductions from the $3.202 trillion increase in debt.
Allen served 2,193 days in the Senate -- from Jan. 3, 2001 to Jan. 4, 2007. That’s 189,475,200 seconds.
He voted for budgets that increased the debt by $16,896.68 per second. That’s almost $497 a second more than Radtke credited to Allen. So we’ve added a kickin’ stereo to the basic features of our Chevy Cobalt.
But before you get angry at Allen, consider this: The debt has risen by $54,684.24 a second since he left office. And Webb has voted "yea" on each 27 appropriations bills that helped get it there.
In case you’re wondering, we have now upgraded to a brand new, fully-loaded Lincoln Navigator every second. We’re talking about a luxury SUV with leather seats, parking sensors, GPS, rain-detecting wipers and sound that will make you think you’re in Carnegie Hall.
Only problem is it gets 14 miles a gallon, so it will cost us down the road.
Radtke said the Allen voted for budgets that increased the debt by $16,400 every second he was in the Senate. Her formula was a bit flawed; the actual figure is $16,896.68 a second.
We find it hard to penalize Radtke for a slight mistake she made in her opponent’s favor. So we rate her statement True.
Radtke for Senate, news release, Jan. 17, 2011.
Interviews with Chuck Hansen, spokesman for Radtke, Jan. 19, 2011.
Interview with Steve Ellis, vice-president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Jan. 19, 2011.
TreasuryDirect, The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It.
THOMAS, Appropriation Bills.
Kelley Blue Book, New Car Prices.
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.