Under the U.S. Constitution the federal budget legislation originates in the House of Representatives and is then sent to the Senate with both bodies resolving any differences before sending the final budget to the president for signature or veto. When President Clinton left office in 2001, the federal government showed a budget surplus of $127 billion. But after 11 years of tax cuts, foreign wars, deficit spending and massive stimulus and bailout programs related to the national economic meltdown, the budget deficit for the federal fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2012 is forecast to hit $1.1 trillion. During that time the gross national debt, which includes things like IOUs to the Social Security trust fund, has grown from $5.7 trillion to nearly $16 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. (The public debt held by the public and foreign governments has grown from $3.4 trillion to $9.7 trillion.) The Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission recommended a mix of broad budget cuts and revenue increases to stabilize federal spending, but the partisan debate in Congress has stalled most progress. In general Democrats have favored tax increases and spending cuts that include the military while Republicans oppose tax increases and would target budget cuts on social programs.