Under Romney, Massachusetts Had Highest Per Capita Debt Of Any State

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney used a speech in Iowa yesterday to blame President Obama for a “prairie fire of debt” that is supposedly spreading across the nation. Romney continued the assault today, giving a speech in Florida in front of a giant clock featuring a running total of the nation’s debt.

As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Romney’s attack ignores that his own economic plan would add more than $10 trillion to the national debt. It also ignores Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, which had the nation’s highest per capita debt total when he left office in 2007.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (compiled by Connecticut’s chief analyst in 2009), Massachusetts had $10,504 in per capita bond debt in 2007, the highest total in the nation. No other state had more than $10,000 in per capita debt, and only one had more than $8,000. Massachusetts ranked second, behind only Alaska, in per capita debt as a percent of personal income, with debt making up more than 21 percent of each resident’s income.

State bond debt isn’t altogether a bad thing — it finances infrastructure projects and other programs that benefit state residents. But Romney’s accumulation of it while governor is an element of his Massachusetts story that he regularly omits.

Romney has painted the national debt as a moral crisis that “threatens what it means to be an American.” And yet, Romney’s past and his plans for the future prove that he isn’t actually willing to address it.