Sharpton’s Rebuttal of Governor Palin Proven as Nonsense

Al Sharpton couldn’t resist playing the race card in response to Governor Palin’s accurate comment on Americans being enslaved to massive debt created by big government.

Not only did he inaccurately accuse her of racism, he also falsely claimed that the federal debt has gone down over the last five years.

PunditFact (from the Tampa Bay Times) explains it:

The Rev. Al Sharpton used his MSNBC show PoliticsNation to criticize former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for recently likening the national debt to slavery.

But Sharpton made a common mistake — confusing the national debt with the deficit.

“I mean, first of all, slavery in the American context was based on race. So you can’t talk about slavery in American context without talking about race,” said Sharpton, reacting to Palin’s defense that her comparison is not racist. “But second of all … the debt … by the way has been reduced every year for the last five years under this president.”

First of all, the term “slavery” as Governor Palin already mentioned has differing meanings and contexts.  According to Merriam-Webster, the second entry for “slavery” is described as follows:

Submission to a dominating influence.

The “dominating influence” that future generations will be beholden to are those they will owe the unsustainable debt of near 17T racked up by D.C. politicians on both sides of the aisle.

So if Al Sharpton has a problem with that particular context of the word, he should have made his case to Merriam-Webster and others instead of conveniently waiting for an enemy of big government like Governor Palin to accurately use it.

But his gross distortion didn’t stop there.  Of course he was wrong about the debt as well by confusing it with deficit spending.


As PunditFact goes on to report.

In this case, Sharpton’s specific claim is wrong. The debt has risen each year in terms of dollar amount and as a share of the economy since 2007. And it will continue to increase this year, said Jason Peuquet, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget research fellow.

On Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama took office, the country’s total outstanding debt was $10.6 trillion. It stood at $17.1 trillion as of Nov. 8, according to the Treasury Department’s “Debt to the Penny” calculator.


The country started running a deficit in 2002, at $159 billion. The recent run of deficits peaked in 2009 at $1.4 trillion, Obama’s first year in office.

Since then, it’s come down, and there are a couple of ways to count that.

One way is in sheer dollars, through historical tables from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office:

2008: $458.6 billion deficit

2009: $1.413 trillion deficit

2010: $1.294 trillion deficit

2011: $1.299 trillion deficit

2012: $1.087 trillion deficit


By another measure — the deficit as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product — the deficit did fall four consecutive years.

2008: 3.2 percent deficit

2009: 10.1 percent deficit

2010: 9 percent deficit

2011: 8.7 percent deficit

2012: 7 percent deficit


We rate his claim False.

One side note on the deficits: I suppose one could congratulate the president on these so-called reductions in deficit spending whether measured in dollars or by percentage of GDP.  There’s just one problem, he’s (barely) reducing them from his own historic highs.  This would be like saying the “cash for clunkers” program was a success for big government now that we finally see what Obamacare looks like.  It doesn’t fly.


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