Monday, October 25, 2010
By Terence P. Jeffrey
(CNSNews.com) – When Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave her inaugural address as speaker of the House in 2007, she vowed there would be “no new deficit spending.” Since that day, the national debt has increased by $5 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
“After years of historic deficits, this 110th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: Pay as you go, no new deficit spending,” Pelosi said in her speech from the speaker’s podium. “Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.”
Pelosi has served as speaker in the 110th and 111th Congresses.
At the close of business on Jan. 4, 2007, Pelosi’s first day as speaker, the national debt was $8,670,596,242,973.04 (8.67 trillion), according to the Bureau of the Public Debt, a division of the U.S. Treasury Department. At the close of business on Oct. 22, it stood at $13,667,983,325,978.31 (13.67 trillion), an increase of 4,997,387,083,005.27 (or approximately $5 trillion).
Pelosi, the 60th speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has added more to the national debt than the first 57 House speakers combined.
The $4.997-trillion increase in the national debt since she took the gavel is more debt than the federal government amassed from the speakership of Rep. Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania, who became the first speaker of the House on April 1, 1789, to the start of the speakership of Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the 58th speaker, who took up the gavel on Jan. 4, 1995.
The national debt first topped $5 trillion on Feb. 23, 1996, more than a year into Gingrich’s speakership.
Gingrich served as speaker in the 104th and 105th Congresses, officially taking the office on Jan. 4, 1995 and leaving office on Jan. 3, 1999. During that period, according to the Treasury Department, the national debt increased $812.4 billion dollars ($812,423,595,162.98), rising from $4.8 trillion ($4,801,793,426,032.89) to $5.6 trillion ($5,614,217,021,195.87).
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), the 59th speaker, who presided over the 106th, 107th, 108th and 109th Congresses (serving as speaker from Jan. 6, 1999 to Jan. 3, 2007), enjoys the distinction of having increased the debt more than any other speaker except Pelosi. During Hastert’s time, the national debt increased $3.1 trillion ($3,061,785,703,851.74).
Thus far (the 111th Congress will not be done until the end of the year), Pelosi has increased the debt by an average of $2.5 trillion for each Congress she has led as speaker. Hastert increased the debt by an average of about $785 billion per Congress, while Gingrich increased the debt by an average of $406 billion per Congress.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government cannot spend any money that has not been approved by congressional appropriations; and, by congressional precedent, appropriations bills originate in the House.
“No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” says Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution.
“By precedent, appropriations originate in the House, with the Senate following suit,” says the House Rules Committee in an explanation of the appropriations process.
Annual federal expenditures have increased by about $730 billion in the Pelosi era, while annual deficits have increased almost 8 fold. In fiscal 2007, when Pelosi became speaker, the federal government spent $2.73 trillion and ran an annual deficit of $162.8 billion, according to the Treasury Department. In fiscal 2009, the federal government spent $3.52 trillion and ran an annual deficit of $1.4157 trillion. In fiscal 2010, the federal government spent $3.46 trillion and ran an annual deficit of $1.2941 trillion.
“The 2010 deficit was equal to 8.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), CBO estimates, down from 10.0 percent in 2009 (based on the most current estimate of GDP),” the Congressional Budget Office said in its October Monthly Budget Review. “The 2010 deficit was the second-highest shortfall—and 2009 the highest—since 1945, relative to the size of the economy.”