Budget hawks bash Trump’s 'ridiculous' plan to erase debt

Budget hawks bash Trump’s 'ridiculous' plan to erase debt
© Greg Nash

Leading budget hawks are soundly rejecting Republican presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpShocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE’s claim that he can eliminate more than $19 trillion of national debt in eight years.

“That's ridiculous,” former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who served as the top budget adviser to President George W. Bush, said during a panel hosted by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

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Daniels’s comments were seconded by the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office, Alice Rivlin.

“I’ll tell you a secret: He can’t do it,” said Rivlin, who also led the White House Office of Management and Budget under President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonWhy did it take so long for Trump to drain the swamp of Pruitt? An orthodox legal life and the case for Judge Kavanaugh Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE.

Trump made the pledge in a Saturday interview with The Washington Post. When asked how he would achieve such a drastic reduction of the deficit, Trump said he wasn’t looking at tax increases.

“I don’t think I’ll need to [raise taxes]. The power is trade. Our deals are so bad,” Trump said.

The same day, Trump’s promise was called “nonsensical” by the Post’s independent Fact Checker blog.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is nonpartisan, has said that Trump’s tax and economics plan would actually drive the debt up to about $38 trillion — nearly double the current level.

Economists across the spectrum have scoffed at Trump’s pledge. To slash $19 trillion from the federal deficit could require cutting the annual $4 trillion budget in half to pay off the country’s debt holders.

Trump’s pledge to eliminate the current debt also doesn’t include the projected increase of nearly $6.8 trillion between 2017 and 2024.

—This post was updated April 5 at 2:46 p.m.