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Reporting on the start of the 110th Congress and Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) election as House speaker on the January 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Fox News congressional correspondent Major Garrett claimed that during her acceptance speech, Pelosi "tried to shed" the Democratic Party's "historic spendthrift image" when discussing domestic issues. In fact, Pelosi was speaking of the record budget deficits created by the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress over the last six years. As Media Matters for America has noted, a comparison of the budget situation under Presidents Clinton and Bush shows that budget deficits shrank under Clinton, eventually resulting in large budget surpluses, while deficits have ballooned to record levels under Bush. Further, recent polling suggests that Americans trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle budget issues.
Clinton's presidency was marked by a gradual reduction in budget deficits leading to four years of surpluses, while Bush's presidency has seen record budget shortfalls. Based on data from the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Media Matters for America has created the following chart, comparing the surpluses and deficits under Clinton (fiscal years 1994 through 2001) to those under Bush (2002-2007*):
*Budget number for 2007 is a White House projection.
As Media Matters previously noted, Bush's budget deficits (actual and projected) for 2003 through 2007 are the largest in history.
In addition, recent polling suggests that more Americans trust Democrats to handle the country's budget issues, thus negating any "spendthrift image" reported by Garrett. A November 17-19 CNN poll found that 61 percent of those polled have more confidence in Democrats to handle the federal budget deficit than President Bush. A November 1-3 Time magazine poll found that 46 percent of respondents said Democrats would "do a better job of managing government spending," while only 31 percent said Republicans would.
From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
GARRETT: Pelosi touched only lightly on the Democrats' domestic agenda, but tried to shed the party's historic spendthrift image.
PELOSI: After years of historic deficits, this 110th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard. Pay as you go, no new deficit spending.