Vulnerable Senate Democrat who once complained about Washington’s addiction to spending has failed to live up to her rhetoric

Kay Hagan made out of control federal spending and the surge in the national debt an issue during her successful 2008 campaign for U.S. Senate against then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC).

“You only need to look at what kind of state senator I’ve been for the last ten years to see what kind of U.S. senator I’ll be,” said Hagan in a 2008 campaign speech, a clip of which was made available on the NRSC Rapid Response YouTube channel. “While Washington spends itself into a hole and mortgages the future for our children and our grandchildren, I’ve produced five balanced budgets,” she adds before the clip cuts away.

The criticism was valid. Dole had largely toed the party line on spending, approving much of then-President George W. Bush’s domestic and foreign policy agenda in her first and only term in the upper chamber.

In a March 2009 analysis, Mercatus Center research fellow Veronique de Rugy wrote: “President Bush spent almost twice as much as his predecessor, President Clinton.  Adjusted for inflation, in eight years, President Clinton increased the federal budget by 12.5 percent. In eight years, President Bush increased it by a whopping 53 percent.” Though defense spending increased dramatically, which is usually the defense of the substantial growth in government under Bush, de Rugy explains that domestic spending soared as well.

The national debt grew during Dole’s six-year term from $6.3 trillion when she took office in January 2003 to $10.6 trillion, according to Treasury Direct. This more than $4 trillion growth in the national debt is what then-candidate Barack Obama called “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”

On Hagan’s watch, however, the national debt has grown from $10.6 trillion in January 2009 to $17.7 trillion as of August 29, a $7.1 trillion increase in nearly six years.

While it’s true that a representative or senator only represents one vote and can’t necessarily stop their colleagues from increasing spending or the Treasury Department from borrowing more money, Hagan, like Dole, has largely rubber-stamped President Obama’s agenda. That puts her in the awkward position of defending her record and hypocrisy to frustrated North Carolina voters.

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