Commentary

In 2,000 Days as Speaker, Pelosi Has Increased Debt a Record $9.6 Trillion

By Terence P. Jeffrey | June 24, 2020 | 4:33am EDT
(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

In the 2,000 days that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has now served as the leader of a division of the federal government that the Constitution gives authority over all appropriations, the federal debt has increased by a record $9,655,515,485,628.06.

That is more than all the debt the federal government accumulated ($8,670,596,242,973.04) under all of the House speakers who served before Pelosi first took that position on Jan. 4, 2007.

The record $9,655,515,485,628.06 in federal debt amassed during Pelosi's first 2,000 days as speaker works out to an average of $4,827,757,742.81 in added debt per day.

 

None of her predecessors comes close to that mark. She is, indisputably, this nation's Queen of Debt.

It will mark her place in history.

Pelosi has served as speaker of the House twice.

As recorded on the official House website, she first took the position on Jan. 4, 2007 and served until Jan. 5, 2011, when she was succeeded by John Boehner. That first Pelosi tenure lasted 1,463 days.

She resumed the speakership — in her current tenure — on Jan. 3, 2019. As of this Monday, she had served another 537 days — bringing her total time as speaker to 2,000 days.

In Pelosi's first stretch as speaker, according to the numbers published by the U.S. Treasury, the federal debt rose from $8,670,596,242,973.04 to $14,011,526,727,895.85. That was an increase of $5,340,930,484,922,81.

In her current stretch as speaker, the federal debt has risen from $21,929,258,046,653.58 on Jan. 3, 2019 to $26,243,843,047,358.83 as of the close of business on Monday. That is an increase of $4,314,585,000,705.25.

When combined, the $5,340,930,484,922.81 debt increase from her first tenure as speaker and the $4,314,585,000,705.25 from her second equal a total debt increase of $9,655,515,485,628.06.

As noted, all of the debt accumulated by all of the speakers who preceded her first tenure ($8,670,596,242,973.04) is less than the debt ($9,655,515,485,628.06) that has accumulated when Pelosi has occupied the speakership.

It is also true that even when the historical figures are adjusted for inflation (using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator), no recent speaker has come close to presiding over as steep an increase in the debt as Pelosi has

Her immediate predecessor, Paul Ryan, comes closest.

When Ryan took over the speakership on Oct. 29, 2015, the federal debt, according to the Treasury, was $18,152,590,112,385.69. When he left the speakership on Jan. 3, 2019, it was $21,929,258,046,653.58.

Ryan presided over an increase in the debt of $3,776,667,934,267.89. When converted from January 2019 dollars to May 2020 dollars, that becomes approximately $3,846,916,310,000.00.

Thus, in Ryan's 1,177 days as speaker, the federal debt rose an average of $3,268,408,079.86 per day in May 2020 dollars.

That's a great deal of money. But it's still 32.3% less than the $4,827,757,742.81 the debt has increased per day under Pelosi.

Under John Boehner, the debt rose from $14,011,526,727,895.85 on Jan. 5, 2011, when he became speaker, to $18,152,590,112,385.69 on Oct. 29, 2015, when he left that position.

That is an increase of $4,141,063,384,489.84 in current year dollars or approximately $4,464,147,040,000.00 in constant May 2020 dollars.

During the 1,753 days that Boehner was speaker, the debt increased an average of $2,546,575,607.53 per day in constant May 2020 dollars.

That is $2,281,182,135.28 — or 47.3 % — less than Pelosi's $4,827,757,742.81 in added debt per day.

Under Dennis Hastert, the debt rose from $5,615,428,551,461.33 when he became speaker on Jan. 6, 1999, to $8,670,596,242,973.04, when he left that position on Jan. 4, 2007.

That is an increase of $3,055,167,691,511.71 in current year dollars or approximately $3,869,885,110,000.00 in constant May 2020 dollars.

In the 2,921 days that Hastert served as speaker, the federal debt increased an average of $1,324,849,404.31 per day in May 2020 dollars.

That is $3,502,908,338.50 — or 72.6% — less than Pelosi's $4,827,757,742.81 in added debt per day.

Under Newt Gingrich, the debt rose from $4,801,793,426,032.89, when he became speaker on Jan. 4, 1995, to $5,615,428,551,461.33, when he left the speakership on Jan. 6, 1999.

That is an increase of $813,635,125,428.44 in current year dollars and approximately $1,269,696,690,000 in constant May 2020 dollars.

In the 1,464 days that Gingrich was speaker, the debt increased an average of $867,279,159.84 per day in constant May 2020 dollars.

That is $3,960,478,582.97 — or 82% — less than the Pelosi's $4,827,757,742.81 in average added debt per day.

Tom Foley was the last Democrat to serve as speaker before Nancy Pelosi's two tenures. When he became speaker on June 6, 1989, the federal debt was approximately $2,796,070,000,000, according to the Daily Treasury Statement. By the time he left the speakership on Jan. 4, 1995, it had risen to $4,801,793,426,032.89 — an increase of $2,005,723,426,032.89 in current year dollars, or $3,421,526,630,000.00 in constant May 2020 dollars.

Foley served 1,825 days as speaker. So, the debt rose $1,874,809,112.33 per day in May 2020 dollars during his speakership.

That was $2,952,948,630.48 — or 61.2% — less than Pelosi's average daily debt increase.

Americans should hope that when Pelosi leaves the speakership, she is not succeeded by someone who shares her ability to borrow and spend — even when serving with Republican presidents.

(Terence P. Jeffrey is editor-in-chief of CNSNews.com.)

[Editor's Note: The debt numbers from the tenure of former Speaker Dennis Hastert were incorrect as initially reported in this column and have been corrected.] 

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