Leon Panetta warns Trump to address the national deficit and debt

When President-elect Donald Trump assumes office next year on January 20th, one of the first issues he will have to face is a large and growing deficit. On Sunday’s broadcast of “Face the Nation,” moderator John Dickerson asked former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about Trump’s fiscal future in relation to all of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises.  

“We’re looking at trillion dollar deficits. We’re looking at that national debt doubling in a period of ten years.” Panetta said and cautioned for President-elect Trump to “try to set some path of certainty for the future that reduces that debt, reduces the deficit, but more importantly then provides the resources he needs.” He warned the debt would “undermine his ability to have a strong economy.”

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Panetta, who served as the Chairman of the House Budget Committee when he was in Congress and serves as a Co- Chair on the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, explained having to break hard truths to then President George H.W. Bush about addressing growing deficits. Dickerson asked Panetta if he believes members of congress will be as effective constraining President-elect Trump, an ambitious president with a large agenda.

“I think the leadership on Capitol Hill has to make very clear that there are several things he has to do.” Panetta explained. “He’s got to make the American people aware of the consequences of not dealing with this debt.”

He went on to say that the future president will need to “lay out goals he wants to achieve that make clear that he is going to gradually reduce that deficit.” Panetta also stressed the importance of bipartisan support for any future budget deals.

“That would set a future for this country, fiscally, that I think would guarantee that our economy could be strong in the future.”

For more of our interview with Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta click here.