GOP convention's debt clocks don't agree with Treasury Department

The debt clocks Republicans set up in their convention hall in Tampa this week are overstating the debt, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Republicans have set up two clocks — one measures the total U.S. debt, and the other measures debt accumulated since the convention started Monday afternoon.

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The GOP's estimate for the total debt as of Thursday afternoon was about $15.983 trillion. But according to the Treasury Department's latest official estimate, the debt stood at $15.978 trillion as of Wednesday, about $5 billion less.

The other GOP clock says that roughly $7.7 billion has been added to the debt this week. However, that is more than twice as much as what the Treasury Department estimates for the week — according to Treasury, just under $3 billion has been added to the debt between Monday and Wednesday.

Granted, Treasury's latest estimates only run through Wednesday, and the debt could increase significantly when Treasury puts out its estimate for Thursday on Friday. But as Treasury is the official arbiter of the debt level, the GOP clocks seem to be overstating U.S. indebtedness.

U.S. debt has the potential to breach the $16 trillion level in the coming days — as of Wednesday, the United States was about $22 billion shy of that mark.

While most debt clocks show the debt as a constantly climbing number, the debt can actually rise and fall depending on Treasury's daily activities related to managing government securities. This week, for example, Treasury said the debt was $15.979 on Tuesday, and then said it fell to Wednesday's level of $15.978.

An informal survey of GOP debt clocks earlier this month showed that most were overstating the debt in comparison to the Treasury Department's official measurement.

One GOP clock, on the website of Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), lowballed the national debt by about $500 billion. Quayle lost his primary contest this week to Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.).