Gordon Smith's "leadership" breaks the bank, debt clock

Charlie Burr

Most Oregonians know by now that Gordon Smith voted for a war that costs taxpayers $10 billion a month and sided with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time. But in addition to Gordon's spending spree -- voting for giant tax breaks for corporations that need it least and refusing to say no to special interest goody after goody -- Gordon Smith also chaired the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Long-Term Growth and Debt Reduction

How'd that turn out? Well, late last month, our nation hit a truly dubious milestone: Times Square's debt clock has run out of space.

From today's U.S. News and World Report:

Are you surprised? Times Square's National Debt Clock, which has been tallying up money owed by the U.S. government since 1989, is running out of spaces.

In September 2008, the digital dollar sign was eliminated to make way for an extra digit—the "1" in $10 trillion (the national debt is currently $10.2 trillion). Now, a new clock is in the works that will make room for a quadrillion dollars of debt, according to the Associated Press. Anticipated completion is early 2009.

A little history on the clock: It was created in 1989 by Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst to inform the public about the nation's snowballing national debt (back then, it was $2.7 trillion). Seymour died in 1995, and the clock is now owned by his son, Douglas Durst.

Our national debt was around $5 btrillion when George W. Bush took office. Today, it stands at more than $10 trillion. And Gordon Smith was there with Bush -- budget after budget -- every step of the way.


  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    5 Trillion and 10 Trillion not Billion. It seems that now Billion is chump change.

    [Editor--Noted above.]

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    The "debt clock" is a compelling visual - I don't see why Merkley wouldn't use it in an ad.

    I have been trying to think of one thing Gordon Smith has done for me, versus done to me. I'd really like to know that he did just one thing good. Wes Cooley was from my district, and while he was just awful in the legislature and in Congress, he at least got the bicycle helmet law in for the kids. I always like to think that at least one flower can grow out of a pile of dung - what is Smith's flower?

  • Scott in Damascus (unverified)

    I think a much better visual for the Merkley campaign would be an ad featuring Dot and Kathleen - the two card-carrying AARP members of the Greatest Generation who were arrested at Smith's office for having the nerve to ask (gasp!) to speak with the Senator.

  • (Show?)

    "Our national debt was around $5 trillion when George W. Bush took office. Today, it stands at more than $10 trillion. Gordon Smith chaired the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Long-Term Growth and Debt Reduction." I would love to see Jeff open with this and keep on hammering until Slick Gordy is visibly sweating on TV. That would bring a great joy to my heart.

  • Brienne (unverified)

    I don't know where else to put this, so it's going here. I received this e-mail yesterday from Maria Wulff, President of the World Affairs Council of Oregon. It is in response to Smith's negative ad against Merkeley regarding funding for the World Affairs Council of Oregon. I thought it'd be good to share with Blue O friends.


    Dear Council Members and Friends,

    Many of you have seen a television commercial produced by the National Republican Committee which mentions funding for the World Affairs Council when Jeff Merkley (Democratic candidate for US Senate) was Council President. The Council is a non-partisan entity and takes no position on political candidates or issues. But when a political attack ad cites this organization, it is appropriate to respond.


    The State of Oregon provided grants to the World Affairs Council for years before Jeff Merkley joined the staff in 1994, and long before he was elected to the legislature in 1999.

    Every year the Legislature allocates funds to non-profits with a public mission (the Oregon Historical Society, OPB, various museums, etc.) At the Council, State funds were directed to two programs: the Global Classroom (K-12 education) and the International Visitors Program. The Global Classroom supports teachers throughout the state in efforts to bring the world to their classroom; it touches the lives of over 11,000 students each year. The International Visitors Program brings nearly 500 emerging leaders from around the world to our state annually, providing superb professional contacts and spreading our state's reputation throughout the world. The federal government invests $2.5 million each year to bring these visitors to Oregon and also provides a grant for local administrative costs. There is still a funding gap which has been covered in the past by Council fundraising efforts and economic development funds from the State.

    Support for Council funding has always been bipartisan. Council grants were approved and allocated when Republicans controlled both Houses of the State Legislature.

    The Council takes extreme care to ensure that donated funds are used for the good purposes for which they were intended. Jeff Merkley did not benefit personally from State funds. This allegation is not only inconsistent with the facts, it is a diversion from the real issues. Let us encourage ALL candidates to focus on the things that matter.


    Maria Wulff President

  • rw (unverified)

    Charlie: that's one thing I like about this site. The Debt Clock. It's a good tool for teaching the concepts, I'm going to remind my school teacher friends that it's out there in case they want to find a "non-politicized" means of introducing it to their kids as a critical thinking exercise.

    Good one. I don't know that I ever even knew it existed before you mentioned it.

  • mike (unverified)

    Yesterday I received a telephone poll from "SAL associates" or "SAL (something)", asking about my demographics and my views of Merkley and Smith, IF I knew that they held certain positions on the bailout. (The purported positions were then described to me..... I think they were trying to make Merkley's position sound bad, and Smith's position sound good, but it was strange since the positions were not really in opposition to each other... and both seemed true.... but never mind that.)

    Does anyone know who SAL is as a research outfit?

    I was left feeling used... and I don't know who I helped.

    I won't do it next time... but I was curious as a political scientist to see what kind of questions they would ask.

    SAL? Anybody?

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