Debt

State Assemblyman Running to Replace Anthony Weiner Only Off On His Guesstimate of the National Debt By About $10 Trillion

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Close only counts in…

In a sit-down with The New York Daily News editorial board, New York State Assemblyman David Weprin, a Democrat running for Rep. Anthony Weiner's vacated seat in special election next month, told the paper that he was running because it's a "very exciting time fiscally, with the nation's debt situation, with the debt ceiling, with the deficit." So exciting, apparently, that he couldn't quite recall just how big the federal debt actually is. Over the weekend, The Daily News reported the following exchange between Weprin and the paper's editorial staff:

Daily News: "Right now, how big is the debt?"

Weprin: (Pause) "Trillions."

News: "But how many?"

Weprin: (Deer in headlights look.) "I got caught up on this once before," referring to his inability while running unsuccessfully for city controller in 2009 to state that office's budget.

News: "This is central to what is going on in Washington."

Weprin: "About 4 trillion."

News: "Four trillion is the debt?"

Weprin: "Right."

Close! Almost…but not really. Turns out Weprin was only off by about $10 trillion. Weprin's spokeperson now says it was merely a "slip of the tongue," and "obviously David knows that the national debt is $14 trillion." Obviously. Maybe he misheard the Daily News staffer when he gave the follow-up confirmation? Don't judge. It might be true! Perhaps hoping to avoid additional slip-ups, however, Weprin has backed out of a scheduled debate with his Republican opponent, Bob Turner. 

Do politicians really need to have numbers like this memorized? Not always. Does this count as a gotcha question? Sort of. Maybe. Does it matter? Isn't it true that, if elected, he'd have staffers and reference material and, you know, Google available to help him recall basic statistics like this? Yes, it's true, and no, politicians don't always need to know every single public policy fact and figure off the top of their heads. But it does help to know the headline numbers, especially when going out of your way to claim that you're excited about the possibility of helping to craft public policy attempting to respond to those numbers. 

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  1. In all fairness, I see government spending (and by extension, the national debt) as the key issue facing our nation, and I wouldn’t have known the answer either. I would have said that the debt is tens of trillions, depending on how you count.

    Which would you rather have – politicians who know the deficit is a problem but don’t know the number, or politicians who know the number but don’t know it’s a problem?

    1. A politician who’s not a dumbass ? Is that a choice ?

    2. Technically he didn’t say the debt was a problem, he said it was “exciting.”

      1. Which is even worse. What would his emotion be when it gets to 40 trillion? Orgasm?

        1. I think guys like this are confusing economics with physics. They think that if the debt gets massive enough, it will collapse into a singularity. Meaning that a debt of, say, 20 trillion dollars would collapse into a $1.00 debt.

          This is why Krugman and others want us to spend more and more, which, at first blush, would seem to make no sense whatsoever.

          1. The Blacke-Howell school of economics.

          2. I thought it was just that they’re power-craving retards.

            1. That, too.

        2. well, he would have some sort of big occurrence in his pants…..

    3. This guy isn’t either of those.

      There is NO. FLERKING. WAY. the Dem party establishment in flerking Brooklyn would have chosen him to run if he were a deficit hawk.

    4. Maybe he’s excited at the prospect of running up even more debt.

  2. If elected, he won’t give a crap about it anyway, so why should he care about it now?

    1. +10,000,000,000,000

    2. Unfortunately, neither would his opponent.

      1. Speaking of whom: (from the linked article)

        Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Bob Turner … a retired television industry executive, said the city should use all its powers, including zoning regulation, to prevent a mosque from opening near Ground Zero,

        Told that the U.S. Constitution would prohibit any official from using governmental powers against a religious or political group based on faith or position, Turner said the city should act nonetheless.

        1. So we got one guy who can’t do simple arithmetic as opposed to a guy whose major interest is what sky-daddy someone prays to?
          And I thought SF politics were screwy!

          1. Oh, sky cake! Why are you so delicious?!

            1. No, not sky cake; it’s sky pie! I didn’t not rape and not murder my whole life to get sky cake! It’s sky pie, damn it! Death to infidels!

  3. We don’t see a problem with his answer. It’s you fucking gay-hating Christian capitalist pigs, who have the problem.

    1. Don’t you mean fucking gay-hating Christian RACIST capitalist pigs?

      1. Can I torch the fuckin’ place now??

    2. Why be so redundant?

    3. We’re libertarians.

      So we’re ‘fucking gay-hating Christian RACIST capitalist pigs who want to smoke pot and have sex with hookers‘.

      Also, Liberal “Cheerleaders”? Isn’t that perpetuating sexist stereotypes?

      1. You assume a cheerleader is female? Who’s the sexist now?

  4. Well, $4 trillion is the portion since Obama was elected.

    Of course, it’s all meaningless if you consider that much of this “debt” is on a cash basis: we still have the shortfalls in Social Security/Medicare to pay for, plus the long-term costs of our adventures abroad.

  5. Daily news should have asked, “How big is Weinger’s weiner?”
    Or better yet, “Who has the bigger dick, you or Weiner?”
    The answers would tell you alot.
    Whether to vote for or against, would also tell alot about you.

  6. *meh*

    Seriously doubt very many of the politicians even understand how big a trillion is (based on their spending, I’d guess none), so what’s the difference?

    Also, does he even understand the difference between debt and deficit?

    Some followup questions might have been a good idea.

    1. The debt is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a big bill down the road at the bank, but that’s just peanuts to the debt.”
      (apologies to Douglas Adams)

      1. “My debt is staggeringly vast.”

  7. Do politicians really need to have numbers like this memorized? Not always.

    A reasonably intelligent person who reads the paper should be able to quickly calculate a ballpark figure. Instead we got this joker who knows a 4 is in there somewhere, but is too goddamn stupid to realize it’s not 4 or 24.

    1. You only have to remember that debt is currently 100% of GDP. And the GDP figure you can get by multiplying 300 million Americans who produce about $50k of GDP each. It is not -that- difficult, I guess.

      1. We only talk about public debt now. So we’re sitting pretty at a scant 60% of GDP. The money that the government owes itself doesn’t matter, as any economist will tell you.

        Nevermind the fact that SS and medicare beneficiaries are the last people on earth they’d ever dare not pay back. They’d default on all public debt plus confiscate the gold fillings from everyone under 50 first.

  8. This is a very funny story. And you say the Daily Show covered it?
    I’m giggling just thinking about it.

    1. Um, dude, the Daily Show is not the Daily News… just sayin

  9. I think it actually demonstrates how little he (and Democrats, in general) actually cares about fiscal issues. I mean, I don’t care if a politician can’t remember minute details, but the size of our debt is practically the defining issue of this decade (so far, anyway). His answer is akin to someone answering “about 800” to the number of people who died on 9/11.

    Talk about a lack of intellectual curiosity (Democrats usually accuse Republicans of that)!

    1. Numbers are just an abstraction imposed upon the world by the white male hegemony.

      1. Give the guy credit for not using his male gaze on facts and figures. See what I did there?

      2. Numbers are INTRISNICALLY PATERNALIZTIC!!!!1!1!!!!!

      3. Numbers are a tool explicitly developed for furthering agricultural interests.

        1. You are saying that to be pharaonic.

    2. It actually demonstrates how little virtually all politicians care about fiscal issues. Because if they did care, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in, and even if we were, they would be cutting spending instead of pretending to cut spending.

      People think Hollywood stars live in bubbles, but I think the politicians are in an even more profound bubble.

    3. They need to save themselves for the important issues, like making sure a candidate doesn’t go to a weird kind of church.

  10. Don’t see this being a big problem for him, considering we have a president who thinks there are 57 states.

    Obviously, Democratic votes don’t care about little things like facts.

    1. Mathist hegemony!

    2. I’ll give Obama that. He meant to say he was visiting 48 (i.e. everything but the freak states) and was on #47. Fair enough. Gaffes are funny, but smart people have them too.

      Only a psychopath believes he should be in politics without having even a decent ballpark estimate of our national debt. (That works without the italicized part, too, but I digress.)

      1. Only a psychopath believes he should be in politics without having even a decent ballpark estimate of our national debt.

        I can think of about 500 examples of exactly that kind of person.

        1. You aren’t trying. They (almost) all ran against someone, first in primaries, then in general elections.

          1. Not to mention gevernors, state legislators, their primary and general election opponents, etc.

            And that’s just in the USA.

  11. 4 trillion is the cost of lost productivity while people post pictures of their intimate parts on Facebook.

  12. He’s simply excited about amassing more power. Knowing anything about anything isn’t germane to that quest. Still, even the stupidest HnR trolls know how much debt we have.

    1. i nevur learneded the maths. lulz.

  13. Should have asked him which porn stars he’s a fan of.

    Personally I’m veering toward April O’Neill these days after Rebeca Linares got herself mutilated.

    1. A Turtles fan, I see.

  14. Close enough for government work.

    (My dad, who worked for the Feds, HATES it when I use that saying; to be fair, he worked for one of the few agencies that actually showed a profit…)

    1. The IRS?

    2. They stole more than they spent?

    3. I think “surplus” is the word. Rarely used and even more rarely seen.

  15. We are so fucked, especially considering that even after this demonstrable idiocy, this guy undoubtedly carries his district by 20 points.

  16. Even my pet fish learned by osmosis over the last few months that the debt is 14 trillion.

    1. Did you wrap it in the wall street journal?

  17. Right after the quoted exchange, the paper continues: he was off only by a $10 trillion order of magnitude

    Not to out-pedant the pedant, but that is not what order of magnitude means.

    1. Maybe in another edited segment he claimed the debt was $1.4

      1. Fourteen milllliiion dollars!!

  18. He merely confused the deficit for the debt

  19. How do spokesman get away w/ the “slip of the tongue” excuse with a straight face?
    “How big is the debt?”
    “4 Trillion”
    “You’re saying the debt is 4 Trillion?”
    “Yes”
    Okay, that’s not a slip of the tongue, that is a wrong fucking answer.
    This is a slip of the tongue:
    “How big is the debt?”
    “4 Trillion”
    “4 Trillion?”
    “Did I say 4 Trillion, sorry I meant to say 14 Trillion right there”
    THAT is a slip of the tongue

  20. Not to mention gevernors, state legislators, their primary and general election opponents, etc.

  21. This guy knows what he is talking about, having high debts is the way to create prosperity only a neanderthal will believe that debt is something to worry about.

  22. Much ado about nothing.
    Proceed to the next thread.

  23. As long as he knows that the answer to the debt problem is to tax the rich, he is a shoe-in.

  24. Why is Suderman so apologetic about pointing out a Democrat’s gaffe?

    1. Do politicians really need to have numbers like this memorized? Not always. Does this count as a gotcha question? Sort of. Maybe. Does it matter? Isn’t it true that, if elected, he’d have staffers and reference material and, you know, Google available to help him recall basic statistics like this? Yes, it’s true, and no, politicians don’t always need to know every single public policy fact and figure off the top of their heads.

      I am so sure he would hmm and hah like that if Palin or Bachman had made such a mistake.

      In answer to your question, he does it because Suderman is the current holder of the Dave Weigel Reason writing chair for socialist Democrats pretending to be libertarians for a paycheck.

  25. “I got caught up on this once before,”

    In other words, he’s too stupid to learn from his mistakes. Is that perhaps a disqualifier for you statists, or do you have some bizarre theory that this is somehow a good thing?

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