This is not a “beat up” Sarah Palin piece, but it is important to note that she is not getting some basic facts about the national debt correct. In fact, she has been dead-ass wrong. Here’s what she said:

During a family bus trip, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made a claim about the size of the debt accumulated under President Barack Obama.

“Look at the debt that has been accumulated in the last two years,” Palin, a Republican, told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren on May 31, 2011, as her bus rolled down the highway. “It’s more debt under this president than all those other presidents combined.”

We’ve heard similar nonsense from Michele Bachmann:

“From the time when George Washington took the presidency on his first day to the day George W. Bush left as president of the United States, all 43 presidents, if you take all of the debt combined of all of those 43 presidents, do you know that all of that debt is less than the debt that was accumulated by Barack Obama in one year? That is the level of debt and spending that we have engaged in. So this isn’t hyperbole. This is facts.”
–Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Jan. 21, 2011

Here are the facts, so far the President who accumulated the most debt during his term was George W. Bush, not Barack Obama:

Bush grew the debt, or at least was President during the period January 2001 thru December 2008 (to be precise 20 January 2001 until noon on 20 January 2009) from $5,807,463,412,200.06 (THAT’S 5.8 TRILLION DOLLARS) to $10,967,276,000,000 (i.e., almost $11 TRILLION DOLLARS). That was an increase of $5,226,456,000,000. Five point two trillion dollars means that Bush almost doubled the size of the debt he inherited from Bill Clinton.

So where does Barack stand? As of May 2011 the Federal debt was at $14,344,668,000,000. Subtract $10,967,276,000,000 and you get $3,377,392,000,000 trillion dollars.

It would be correct to say that Barack Obama is presiding on the most explosive growth ever in the Federal debt. He’s racked up more total debt in two and one-half years than any other former U.S. President, but George W. Bush played a huge role in helping worsen this mess.

If Sarah Palin wants to be taken seriously (or any other Presidential aspirant for that matter) she must get her facts right. Making shit up is, shall we say, Obama-esque.

Republicans need to stop pretending that this flood of red ink at the Federal level only started with the influx of Democrats into Washington. Nope. George W. Bush will go down in history as one of the top five most profligate spenders in the history of American Presidents. But he shares something in common with Jimmy Carter–Barack Obama’s debt record will make us forget the profligacy of Bush just as Obama’s Presidential record helps erase the memory of Carter’s incompetence.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.