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Ted Cruz just claimed that Trump didn't promise to cut the federal debt. But eliminating it was a major part of the president's 2016 campaign — and he hasn't come close.

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/26/2020 (Joseph Zeballos-Roig)
a close up of Ted Cruz wearing a blue shirt: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images © Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images
  • Ted Cruz said Trump never promised to cut the federal debt when the president actually pledged to eliminate it in two terms.
  • "I'm very worried about the debt. And I'm worried about it under Trump," Cruz said in an Axios interview. "Now, to be fair, Trump didn't campaign on cutting the debt."
  • The administration fell far short of eliminating the debt before the pandemic, though experts say the debt shouldn't be a concern while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sen. Ted Cruz claimed President Trump didn't pledge to cut the federal debt during his 2016 presidential campaign, though it formed a key economic element of his run at the time.

During an interview for "Axios on HBO" with reporter Jonathan Swan, Cruz was asked whether Republicans set aside their concerns about the budget deficit during Trump's presidency.

"I'm very worried about the debt. And I'm worried about it under Trump," Cruz said. "Now, to be fair, Trump didn't campaign on cutting the debt."

"He did," Swan pointed out. "He said he was gonna eliminate the national debt in eight years."

During his 2016 presidential run, Trump pledged to wipe out the national debt, which stood at $19 trillion at the time, The Washington Post reported.

The Trump administration, however, signed into law a $1.9 trillion tax cut in 2017 that mostly benefited large corporations and spending increases the year after. It never came close to eliminating the debt before the coronavirus pandemic.

Video: Biden to introduce tax increase plans immediately, even if COVID-19 recession continues: Gasparino (Fox Business)

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Trump brought up the rising debt at a speech at the New York Economic Club earlier this month.

"It's very concerning to me and we're going to start doing that. I think you're going to start to see tremendous growth ... the growth is going to get it done," Trump said. "It's very much on my mind."

The pandemic sparked over $3 trillion in new federal spending this year to keep individuals and businesses afloat, which included federal unemployment benefits, $1,200 stimulus checks, and small business aid. Congress is debating another sizable economic aid package to prop up the economy, and Trump strongly supports it.

The federal debt has steadily grown under Trump and the two previous administrations in the last 20 years.

The president's economic platform remains vague, though he's called for a middle-class tax cut without specifying further and to put in place a favorable environment for job growth.

Many economists argue the debt shouldn't be a prime concern for the federal government while the coronavirus pandemic rages on. Bringing it down would require spending reductions or tax hikes.

The Federal Reserve is also expected to keep interest rates near zero through 2023, decreasing the cost of borrowing money.

Read more: An investing shop overseeing $476 billion analyzed 650 stocks to fine-tune its election strategy. The firm's experts break down the trades to make around a Biden win — and explains how investors can keep portfolios safe.

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