Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Rand Paul’s Math Doesn’t Add Up

Sen. Rand Paul is still using an obsolete GOP talking point that Roll Call debunked back in March — and since then, he’s only gotten more wrong.

“We are now borrowing $40,000 a second. We are borrowing $4 billion a day,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor, according to a transcript blasted out by his office. Neither figure is accurate.

Indeed, the latest Congressional Budget Office estimates show the deficit dropping to $642 billion this year — or less than $1.8 billion a day and about $21,000 a second. The debt will go up slightly faster — $755 billion or less than $2.1 billion a day or about $24,000 a second. That’s because programs like borrowing to finance student loans aren’t included in the CBO’s deficit calculation.

Paul then tweeted an even bigger error —  writing, “We are borrowing $400,000 a second” — which is an order of magnitude more incorrect than the $40,000 figure:

We are borrowing $400,000 a second. We are borrowing $4 billion a day. We borrow from China just to run the ordinary functions of government

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013

At last check, that erroneous tweet had received more than 1200 retweets. Paul’s point would have been accurate if he had referenced Obama’s first term in office, when the gross debt increased by about $5.8 trillion, or $4 billion a day. It’s a talking point Republicans repeatedly and accurately used in last year’s elections. But the deficit has been shrinking rapidly.

Roll Call reached out to Paul’s office to see if he intends to correct the record, and his tweet. We’ll let you know if we hear back.

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