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Budget chief: Trump's promise to eliminate debt was 'hyperbole'

Budget chief: Trump's promise to eliminate debt was 'hyperbole'
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The White House's budget chief says President Trump’s campaign promise to eliminate the national debt was “hyperbole.”

Asked Wednesday by CNBC’s John Harwood asked about Trump’s “goal of eliminating the debt” by the end of his second term, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said it was likely impossible.

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“It’s fairly safe to assume that was hyperbole,” he responded. “I’m not going to be able to pay off $20 trillion worth of debt in four years. I’d be being dishonest with you if I said I could.

"The reason the president doesn’t want to change some of the mandatory spending is because the public’s not ready for it yet. They’re ready for economic growth.”

Trump insisted last year to The Washington Post that he would be able to get rid of the national debt “over a period of eight years.”

Though in a subsequent interview with Fortune magazine, Trump seemed to walk back his pledge when asked if he could pay off the national debt in 10 years.

"No, I didn’t say 10 years. First of all, with low interest rates, you can think in terms of refinancings, and get it down,” Trump said in April 2016. "I believe you can do certain things to pay off the debt more quickly. The most important thing is to make sure the economy stays strong. You can do it in smaller chunks. You can do it in larger chunks. And you can do it in refinancing."

He instead said he could pay off "a percentage of it” in 10 years.