Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 28, 2015

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.

Comments (61)

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  1. babeol

    May 22, 2013
    10:59 a.m.

    Seriously? The numbers are huge regardless of the absolute value. I respect this man and Ted Cruz for standing up and making others more accountable for this reckless spending. We need more people like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz in the Senate and House.

    • GreenEagle

      May 22, 2013
      8:38 p.m.

      You respect these two guys? They are lying demagogues. That is what you respect? No wonder you vote Republican.

  2. eideard

    May 22, 2013
    12:35 p.m.

    Yup. Let’s respect the Paul Cruz brothers for what? Incompetent economics? Skill at lying? Loyalty to 18th Century ideals like misogyny and racism?

  3. babeol

    May 22, 2013
    9:12 p.m.

    I have no idea how an economic discussion of the veracity of our national debt per second morphs into all these adjectives. I guess accusations of racism, misogyny demagogues, etc have to be used by low-information voter’s because they have no eduction in real debate, and therefore cannot refute the fact that Obama has grown our national debt more than any other president in history. That is an irrefutable fact.

    We are 16 trillion in debt and swiftly sinking. Just like people who run up credit card debt and cannot pay it off.

    • aftermidnight

      May 28, 2013
      7:19 p.m.

      “Obama has grown our national debt more than any other president in history.”

      Ummm. Reagan tripled our national debt. Just as Bush 2 did, he took relatively low deficits and made them very large. Obama was handed an economy losing 750,000 jobs per month, with GDP rapidly falling. He quickly turned things around. Bush left us with a $1.419 trillion deficit in 2009. The deficit in 2013 is projected to be $642 billion. See the difference here. Better under Democrats, worse under Republicans. It’s been that way for decades.

      • babeol

        May 29, 2013
        7:53 p.m.

        It is good to remember that congress controls and OKs the spending according to our constitution.

  4. returntoorthodoxy

    May 24, 2013
    7:02 a.m.

    The deficit is “decreasing” because of a one time Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac payout AND assumes the economy is about to break out with 6.5% growth. Tell me another story, daddy.

  5. SamFreeman

    May 24, 2013
    10:27 p.m.

    Both Senator Paul and Roll Call are wrong. We are borrowing $16.74 Trillion every second of every day and it is growing. That is what we owe and it is called the debt. What we are adding to that amount is what fluctuates, and it is called the deficit (theoretically, it could be called the surplus, if we were reducing the debt). But so long as we are not paying it back, we are borrowing it. Still, there is no reason to think the CBO’s estimate will be accurate. They drastically underestimated the cost of Obamacare and still have to constantly update that number. So, no, you have not shown that Senator Paul’s math does not added up (except for the typo in the tweet which is clearly an accident since he states the $40,000/second elsewhere). Only reality can prove his projection, or the CBO’s or any other projection, to be incorrect.

    • aftermidnight

      May 28, 2013
      7:23 p.m.

      So your fantasies are reality. And Roll Call’s and the CBO’s numbers, derived through a process involving actual revenue vs. spending considerations are fantasy???? Got it.

  6. SteveD

    May 30, 2013
    7:13 p.m.

    Why do the big banks have limitless money, while you and I are broke? Why do the big banks have elegant buildings, while you and I live in squalor and despair? Answer: banks create money out of nothing, just like Monetary Sovereign governments do — although most bank money exists as loans (which MUST be paid back, which also REDUCES the money supply, government money NEVER needs to be paid back, as it is net created money and without it there would be NO money).

    Yes folks, it’s all digital. You would realize this if you honestly considered what happens in your everyday life.

    However most people don’t want to do that. Most people prefer to live in a dream world where money is somehow physical, and therefore limited.

    If you live in this dream world then:

    >> You believe the lie that government money is limited, and you must have austerity.

    >> You believe the lie that the US government has a “debt crisis,” and “can’t spend money it doesn’t have.”

    >> You want taxes to be imposed on rich people, or some other group, falsely believing that if they have less, you will have more.

    >> You cannot accept that the US government has no need or use for tax revenue, and in fact destroys revenue upon receipt.

    >> You think that gold has intrinsic value, and will keep that value even if all the bank systems crash.

    >> You habitually say the government is “printing money like mad,” even though less than 3% of the money supply consists of coins and bills.

    >> You feel anxiety when someone tells you that banks and government create money out of thin air.

    >> You are totally confused about money and economics.

    In short, if you think money is physical, then you are brainwashed. And to those who are brainwashed, reality looks bizarre and absurd.Let’s state yet again that money is not physical. Money is purely digital. It only exists in the computerized accounts of banks. (Currency coins and bills are merely claims to digital values.)

    Banks and the US government both create money by changing the numbers in accounts. Banks create money as loans. The US government creates money as debt-free spending.

    Since money is not physical, there is no need for the US government to “borrow” from anyone. Government money is created the moment an account is credited.

    The “debt” is a TRIVIAL product of selling T-securities, and is as much an ASSET as a “debt.” Besides, the federal government can create and spend money for ANYTHING directly, without selling T-securities. Hence the money is limitless and debt-free.

    Furthermore, tax cuts are a relief from austerity. All federal taxes should be cut to zero. The federal government does not need or use tax revenue, and the FICA tax does not pay for Social Security or Medicare. What does pay for it? The process of changing numbers in digital bank accounts. That is, the crediting of accounts.

    It’s called widening the gap between the rich and the rest. It is sustained by your refusal to accept the facts regarding government finances.

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