Fox News Anchor Confronts Trump Chief of Staff Mulvaney Over Ballooning Deficit, Pointing Out It Began Decreasing Under Obama

Although then-candidate Donald Trump promised in 2016 to eliminate the national deficit if he was elected president, the deficit has actually ballooned significantly since he took office and is projected to grow substantially moving forward. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney about this fact Sunday, pointing out that the deficit had begun decreasing under former President Barack Obama before Trump took over.

"After dealing with the Great Recession in his first term, the deficit under Obama dropped by an average of 11 percent a year in his second term," Wallace pointed out to Mulvaney — who also serves as Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget — on Fox News Sunday.

"The deficit has increased by 15 percent a year in President Trump's first two years. Under President Trump, our national debt has increased by more than $2 trillion," Wallace continued. He pointed out that estimates project that the amount will "top $4 trillion," if a bipartisan budget supported by the president goes through.

Wallace asked how Mulvaney and the Trump administration could support such significant increases to the deficit, particularly when the president had promised to do precisely the opposite.

Chris asks @MickMulvaneyOMB about the plans to add to the National debt when President Trump promised to reduce it #FNS #FoxNews

— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) July 28, 2019

"Take our budget. Adopt our budget," Mulvaney responded, referring to the president's original budget proposal submitted to Congress earlier this year. "'Dead on arrival' is the word that everyone always uses, but if you actually went to look at it and saw what Donald Trump would do if he could pass spending bills, which he can't, you would be on your path to balance and the deficit would be down," the Trump official argued.

Wallace pushed back, pointing out that Trump enjoyed Republican control of both chambers of Congress during his first two years as president and still did not pass budgets that reduced the deficit. Mulvaney responded by saying Republican lawmakers were also to blame but not Trump, arguing that they "threw our budgets in the trash."

Trump's 2020 budget proposal, to which Mulvaney was referring, contradicted a key 2016 campaign promise made to voters by the president. It aimed to spend $1.5 trillion less on Medicaid and $845 billion less on Medicare, despite Trump promising as a presidential candidate that he was "not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid" like "every other Republican." That White House proposal, despite Mulvaney's claims, would have also been the largest federal budget in U.S. history, calling for $4.75 trillion in spending.

Democrats strongly objected to the cuts to popular social programs, compromising by granting Republicans and Trump significant increases to military spending in order to garner bipartisan support. This past week, Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives agreed to legislation that would spend an additional $320 billion from what the government was already spending over the next two years. It also disregards the national debt limit for the next two years, until after the 2020 election.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the press in the Oval Office of the White House July 26 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty

Trump has cheered the deal and urged the Senate to pass the legislation. He has argued that significant increases on military spending are victory for soldiers and veterans. But as Wallace pointed out, the budget deal is estimated to balloon the national deficit further, despite Trump's previous promises.

Another major reason for the ballooning deficit are the president's signature tax cuts, which have been projected to add nearly $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. Trump and Republicans argued that the tax cuts, which largely benefited the wealthiest Americans and corporations, would end up paying for themselves through increased spending and investment in the economy. That promise has, thus far, failed to materialize.