President Trump reportedly shrugged off concerns over the ballooning national debt, telling senior advisers in an early 2017 meeting "Yeah, but I won't be here" when presented with "charts and graphics layout out the numbers and showing a "hockey stick" spike in the national debt" set to occur "in the not too distant future."
The alleged incident from nearly two years ago comes from the Daily Beast - citing "a source who was in the room," which we note is anonymous - the standard operating procedure for most anti-Trump hit pieces. As such, one may want to take the report with copious grains of salt.
Citing another anonymous White House official, the Beast reports that President Trump hasn't addressed the national debt "in a truly meaningful way, despite his public lip service."
"I never once heard him talk about the debt," said the totally anonymous source.
Then again, former Trump official Marc Short - who went on record, refutes the anonymously sourced suggestion over Debt worries - telling the Beast that he believed Trump recognized "the threat that debt poses," as evidenced by the president's repeated concerns over "rising interest rates."
"But there’s no doubt this administration and this Congress need to address spending because we have out-of-control entitlement programs," Short said, adding, "it’s fair to say that... the president would be skeptical of anyone who claims that they would know exactly when a [debt] crisis really comes home to roost."
The Beast adds further to the notion that Trump is concerned about debt, however it's ultimately up to the legislative branch which has the "power of the purse."
Recent reports have suggested that Trump is determined, at least rhetorically, to address the issue. Hogan Gidley, a spokesman for the president, noted that the president and his team have proposed policies to achieve some deficit reduction, “including in his first budget that actually would’ve balanced in 10 years, a historic, common-sense rescissions proposal.”
But Gidley also passed the buck to the legislative branch. “While the president has and will continue to do everything in his power to rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending,” he said, “the Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse and it’s time for them to work with this president to reduce the debt.” -Daily Beast
Growing our way out of debt?
Another person close to the Trump campaign, conservative Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore, suggested that Trump may not be focused on debt reduction because Moore convinced him that it can be solved by through other means than spending cuts or tax hikes.
Moore, a conservative economist at the Heritage Foundation and an economic adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, recalled making visual presentations to Trump in mid-2016 that showed him the severity of the debt problem. But Moore told The Daily Beast that he personally assured candidate Trump that it could be dealt with by focusing on economic growth. -Daily Beast
"That was why, when he was confronted with these nightmare scenarios on the debt, I think he rejected them, because if you grow the economy… you don’t have a debt problem," Moore said, adding "I know a few times when people would bring up the enormous debt, he would say, ‘We’re gonna grow our way out of it.'"
Moore recalls that Trump's belief in robust economic growth would solve American's problems, and allow his administration to justify expensive and ambitious proposals, such as cutting taxes, pursuing large infrastructure projects, and avoiding deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
The results have not been what Trump and Moore have promised; at least not yet. Economic growth increased over the past year—including a robust 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018—but the federal deficit has ballooned as well, in part because the government has taken in less revenue because of the tax cuts. Current forecasts are not too rosy about the future economy.
Recently, both Trump and some Republican lawmakers have hinted at regret over their approach. Earlier this year, Trump conveyed his disappointment with signing a large spending bill, particularly after he saw typically friendly allies on Fox News tear into him for supporting legislation that they viewed as funding Democratic priorities, exacerbating the national debt, and ditching his pledge to build a gigantic border wall, according to a report at the time in Axios. -Daily Beast
That said, the Washington Post reported last late month that Trump has instructed his cabinet to trim fat within their budgets - however the President has also set strict limits on what types of programs can be cut - while also proposing increased spending in other areas.
So - is President Trump truly cavalier about the national debt? Or is the Daily Beast's source perhaps an ex-admin official with an ax to grind?