Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney clarified in an interview aired Wednesday that President Trump didn't actually mean it when he promised during his presidential campaign to eliminate the national debt. "It's fairly safe to assume that was hyperbole," Mulvaney told CNBC. "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 that I could."
Budget experts of course knew Trump's claim was an impossibility from the get-go, though that didn't stop Trump from repeating the promise of eliminating the nation's $20 trillion debt by the end of his second term. Trump has since walked that back, claiming in a later interview with Fortune that he would just pay "a percentage of it off" in 10 years.
Mulvaney insinuated that Trump wouldn't be able to make good on the lofty promise because he's looking out for the people. "The reason the president doesn't want to change some of the mandatory spending is because the public's not ready for it yet," Mulvaney said. "They're ready for economic growth."
Watch the interview below. Becca Stanek