Debt under House GOP increases by $1.59 trillion

During the fall of 2010, Republicans promised Americans that they would work to bring the country back on a sustainable fiscal path, promising spending cuts and, eventually, a balanced budget. But the results of House Republican rule have been less than pleasing. CNS News reports that since they took control last year, the national debt has increased by $1.59 trillion:

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which took office in January 2011, has enacted federal spending bills under which the national debt has increased more in less than one term of Congress than in the first 97 Congresses combined.

In the fifteen months that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives—led by Speaker John Boehner—has effectively enjoyed a constitutional veto over federal spending, the federal government’s debt has increased by about $1.59 trillion.
The approximately $1.59 trillion in new debt accumulated since the Republican-controlled House gained a veto over federal spending legislation is more than the total increase in the federal debt between 1789, when the first Congress convened, and October 1984, when the 98th Congress was nearing the end of its second session.

Rep. Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania served as speaker in the first Congress. Rep. Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts served his third term as speaker in the 98th Congress.

When Boehner became speaker on Jan. 5, 2011, the federal government was operating under a continuing resolution that had been passed on Dec. 21, 2010 by a lame-duck Congress. That CR expired on March 4, 2011.

On March 1, 2011, Boehner agreed to a new short-term spending deal with President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders to keep the government running past the March 4, 2011 expiration of the old CR. Since March 4, 2011, federal expenditures have been carried out under a series of CRs approved by both the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate and signed into law by President Obama.

At the close of business on March 4, 2011, the total federal debt was $14,182,627,184,881.03, according to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt. At the close of business on May 31, 2012, it was 15,770,685,085,364.14. That is an increase of $1,588,057,900,483.11—in just 15 months.

The logical response to this is that House Republicans control only half of Congress, and since the Senate and White House have resisted spending cuts, they can’t really do much to fulfill their promises. That’s a point with which many of us can agree.

However, the cuts they have pushed have been non-defense discretionary spending, which is around 15% of the budget. They don’t want to touch defense spending at all. They’re openly discussing bringing back earmarks.  Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan wouldn’t balance the budget for years and doesn’t cut nearly enough spending over the 10-year window.

The criticism isn’t entirely their fault, but what we’ve seen out of House Republicans in terms of what they want to do isn’t exactly a source of optimism. And let’s say that Republicans manage to take the White House and Senate this fall, does anyone really believe that they aren’t going to govern like they did under George W. Bush? They will certainly be those in both chambers that fight tooth-and-nail for taxpayers — Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, Paul Broun, and Tom McClintock, to name a few, but the view of many in the GOP is that once they come into power, they want to stay in power; and that means they’re going to compromise, not reform Washington.

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