President Trump once suggested to his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, that the government should simply print more money to help eliminate federal debt, The Washington Post reports.
“He’d just say, run the presses, run the presses,” one former senior administration official said, describing Trump’s Oval Office orders. “Sometimes it seemed like he was joking, and sometimes it didn’t.”
Two current aides told the Post that they had not heard the president make that comment in recent months.
The anecdote was a part of a larger report on the president’s attempt to curb the federal deficit, even as he attempts to institute some policies that will increase federal spending.
Government debt has increased by roughly $2 trillion since Trump became president and the federal government now owes $21.7 trillion. The budget deficit also increased 17 percent in the 2018 fiscal year.
The Post’s anecdote is nearly identical to an excerpt from veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s book— “Fear: Trump in the White House.”
The legendary Watergate reporter claims that Cohn told Trump that the Federal Reserve was likely to increase rates during his first term in office.
“We should just go borrow a lot of money, hold it, and then sell it to make money,” Trump reportedly said in response.
Woodward writes that Cohn was reportedly “astounded” by Trump’s suggestion, which he reportedly said illustrated a “lack of basic understanding” about how federal debt works.
According to the book, the then-president-elect told Cohn in 2016 that the country could simply get rid of debt in eight years by printing more money.
“Just run the presses — print money,” Trump suggested.
Woodward wrote that Cohn responded by explaining to Trump how printing more money is thought to lead to inflation and could be catastrophic for the fiscal health of the U.S.
“It was clear that Trump did not understand the way the US government debt cycle balance sheet worked,” Woodward wrote.
Vanity Fair reports that Cohn called Trump’s intelligence level that of an “inbred tanning bed.”