Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Your share of the national debt = $135,000!

Tom Smith is running for Senate in PA.  I saw his commercial on TV this morning.  In the commercial, he states that each person's share of the national debt is $135,000 without any mention as to how he came up with that number.  I had never heard that number used before, so I went looking for the explanation.  I think I found it and wrote the following on Tom Smith's Facebook page regarding the statistic.
Mr. Smith,
First of all, thank you for your willingness to serve the public. I saw your TV spot today and viewed it again online. I also took a look at your position on the issues and agree with you in regard to term limits. I also agree that our national debt is a concern; however, I disagree with the way you state the problem in your commercial. I understand that the point of your commercial is to grab people’s attention but you don’t want to misrepresent the facts, right? If you misrepresent the facts and are called out to explain, some might wonder if you purposefully exaggerated the facts for political advantage or if you don’t understand these important issues which call into question your credentials for the job.

You state in the commercial that “everyone’s share” of the national debt is $135,000 but you don’t say who you consider everyone. Everyone would make most people think citizens. If your calculation represented citizens, then each citizen’s share of the national debt is around $49,120. The national debt = $15,355,198,335,393.66 (2/13/2012 – and the estimated population of the US. = 312,602,730 (12/1/2011 – Did you know that the average US citizen has a little over $50,000 of personal debt (mortgage+loans+credit cards) so combined, total debt obligations for each citizen are significantly lower than your number.

I’m assuming your number comes from taking the national debt and dividing it by the number of “individual” taxpayers who paid income tax? Therefore, you’re saying that only taxpaying Americans are unfortunate enough to be on the hook for the entire national debt. Really, is that true or does $135,000 sound a lot worse than $49,000?

Don’t you propose to significantly cut spending to reduce the debt? You would have to if you plan to lower taxes too. Maybe cut a little from Medicare, education, national defense, environmental protection, etc… don’t these policy decisions have the potential to negatively affect all citizens? Don’t all citizens share in the cost of the national debt? Kids don’t pay taxes so they’re not on the hook for the national debt? The poor? I guess you’re also planning to eliminate corporate taxes because your number cannot include corporations who pay taxes.

Again, I don’t disagree with you about the national debt being a growing problem and that decisions to reduce the debt will be difficult, $49,000 is still a lot of money. What I disagree with and find unacceptable of politicians, even politicians who claim "not" to be politicians like you, is their inability to explain the facts to the voters and their reliance on “the party’s” spin to exaggerate the issue for political advantage. You claim to be better than that.

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