Final Tab for Pelosi’s Speakership: $5.34 Trillion in New Debt—Or $3.66 Billion Per Day

Terence P. Jeffrey | January 6, 2011 | 2:28pm EST
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Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( - In the 1,461 days that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) served as speaker of the House, the national debt increased by a total of $5.343 trillion ($5,343,452,800,321.37) or $3.66 billion per day ($3.657,394,113.84), according to official debt numbers published by the U.S. Treasury.

Pelosi was the 52nd speaker of the House. During her tenure, she amassed more debt than the first 49 speakers combined.

The total national debt did not climb above $5.343 trillion (the amount amassed during Pelosi’s four years as speaker) until Feb. 26, 1997, when Rep. Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) was serving as the nation’s 50th House speaker.

When Pelosi was sworn in on Jan. 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8,670,596,242,973.04. At the close of business on Jan. 4, 2011, her last full day in the speakership, it stood at 14,014,049,043,294.41--an increase of $5,343,452,800,321.37.

Pelosi served as speaker for four full years, including one leap year, making her time in that office 1,461 days. On average, the federal government added $3.66 billion ($3,657,394,113.84) in new debt for each of those days.

Pelosi not only outstripped her predecessors in the total volume of debt added to the national debt during her tenure as speaker, but also in the rate at which new debt was added. In fact, Pelosi added debt at a rate more than three times faster than her nearest competitor.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.), who served from Jan. 6, 1999 to Jan. 3, 2007, saw $3.06 trillion ($3,061,785,703,851.74) in new debt added during his tenure, which is more than during any other speakership other than Pelosi’s. But Hastert’s tenure lasted 2,920 days, with the national debt increasing by an average of $1.05 billion ($1,048,556,747.89) for each of those days.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich added $812.4 billion ($812,423,595,162.98) in new debt during a speakership of 1,461 days. The national debt accumulated during Gingrich’s tenure at an average rate of $556 million per day ($556,073,644.88).

When Pelosi became speaker in  January 2007 she was emphatic that there would be no new deficit spending.

"After years of historic deficits, this 110th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: Pay as you go, no new deficit spending,” she said in her inaugural address from the speaker’s podium. “Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt."

Here are the national debt figures for the speakership terms of Rep. Nancy Pelosi and her two immediate predecessors:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Jan. 4, 2007               $8,670,596,242,973.04

Jan. 4, 2011              $14,014,049,043,294.41 

New debt added:        $5,343,452,800,321.37

Total days served:      1,461 days

Debt added per day:   $3,657,394,113.84


Speaker Dennis Hastert

Jan. 6, 1999                 5,615,428,551,461.33

Jan. 3, 2007                 8,677,214,255,313.07

New debt added:         3,061,785,703,851.74

Total days served:      2,920

Debt added per day:   1,048,556,747.89

Speaker Newt Gingrich

Jan. 4, 1995                 4,801,793,426,032.89

Jan. 3, 1999                 5,614,217,021,195.87

New debt added:           812,423,595,162.98

Total days served:      1,461

Debt added per day:    556,073,644.88 

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