Barry Hinckley, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has posted several short issue-oriented videos on YouTube, including “Era of disgrace,” which attacks incumbent Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse for helping to grow the national debt.
Hinckley says that “career politicians have spent us into the ground. They have taxed our children’s future away. Sheldon Whitehouse’s failure of leadership, the adding of almost $8 trillion in debt in his first full term, is shameful and shows he is unwilling to tackle the problem and go to work on behalf of our children.”
We’ll check two parts of this claim — whether the debt will increase by $8 trillion by the time Whitehouse completes his first term and the degree to which Whitehouse is responsible.
First, let’s check the number.
The U.S. government’s Treasury Direct website regularly calculates the national debt to the penny and lets people track it over time. From Jan. 3, 2007, when Whitehouse took office, to Jan. 17, 2012, when Hinckley posted the video, the total public debt outstanding went from $8.68 trillion to $15.24 trillion.
That’s a difference of $6.56 trillion. That’s almost $7 trillion but not “almost $8 trillion.” So he’s not there yet.
How much is the debt likely to rise by January 2013 when Whitehouse’s first term expires? We looked back and found that the increase can vary significantly from year to year. From 2007 to 2008 it went up by 6.1 percent but the next year, it increased by 15.4 percent. Last year it went up by 8.8 percent.
So we used the yearly increase for the past five years since Whitehouse has been in office and projected them onto the debt on Jan. 3, 2012. Then we subtracted the amount the U.S. government owed when Whitehouse took office.
The range: from $7.5 trillion to $8.9 trillion.
In addition, the federal budget for 2012 predicts that by Sept. 30, the gross federal debt will be $16.6 trillion, $8 trillion more than when Whitehouse took office.
So Hinckley’s “nearly $8 trillion” is correct.
Second, is the increase a result of Whitehouse’s “failure of leadership?”
When we asked the Hinckley campaign how Whitehouse could be held responsible for
You can read the rest of this article at: http://www.politifact.com/rhode-island/statements/2012/jan/31/barry-hinckley/us-senate-candidate-barry-hinckley-says-sen-sheldo/