The Claim: Clinton said that Republican policies quadrupled the national debt in the 12 years before he took office and doubled it again in the 8 years following his presidency.
The Background: At their convention in Tampa, Florida, Republicans prominently placed a digital display showing a continually updated total for the national debt, which passed $16 trillion as the Democrats opened their conclave. Romney has attacked Obama as a big spender who has lavished money on wasteful government programs.
The Facts: Clinton’s claim is largely true. The Treasury Department’s website, TreasuryDirect - Home
, includes detailed historical data on the government’s public debt. Only annual fiscal year data is available for the period before 1997. Total public debt rose from $907.7 billion on Sept. 30, 1980, four months before President Reagan’s inauguration, to $4.1 trillion on Sept. 30, 1992, as the administration of President George H.W. Bush was coming to a close. Under Clinton, the rise slowed markedly, going to $5.7 trillion. On the second half of his claim, his math was a little off. Total debt rose from $5.7 trillion on Jan. 22, 2001, the first trading day after President George W. Bush was sworn in, to $10.6 trillion on Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama took over. That 86 percent jump isn’t quite the doubling Clinton