When Newt Gingrich boasted that Congress balanced the budget four times when he was House Speaker, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) pounced.
"I went back and looked at the record. The national debt during those four years actually went up about a trillion dollars. What he's talking about is he doesn't count the money he takes out of Social Security," Paul said. "So [neither] Reagan nor you had a truly balanced budget, because the national debt goes up and that's what we pay the interest on."
Gingrich responded: "Under the system that was used, we were $405 billion in balance."
At this point, the audience began to boo Gingrich.
"I agree with Ron. Let me finish," Gingrich said testily. "I actually agree with you and I have proposed that we take Social Security off budget."
The Paul campaign sent out a release moments later with the headline: "Another Fudged Fact By Newt: 'I balanced the budget.'"
FACT: The National Debt went up nearly $1 trillion while he was Speaker
(Source: Treasury Direct.gov)
- In 1994, the year before Gingrich become Speaker the National Debt was $4.693 trillion
- In 1995, the year he become speaker the debt was $4.974 trillion
- In 1996 the debt was $5.225 trillion
- In 1997 the debt was $5.413 trillion
- In 1998-- the last year of his speakership-- the debt was $5.526 trillion