President Trump indicated Wednesday the U.S. government would start paying down the $21.6 trillion in debt it's accrued over the last 80 years.
"We're going to start paying down debt, we have a lot of debt," Trump said during a Wednesday discussion at the White House on the economy. "We're going to start paying down debt."
Trump didn't elaborate, but he made the comment in the context of a discussion about how to improve some of the trade and economic agreements the U.S. has reached over the years. Trump said those past agreements have only helped to let U.S. wealth flow to other countries.
"We have had one of the greatest transfers of wealth in the history of the world," he said. "It's been taken from our country and it's been brought to other countries. And it was only because we had people that were not watching, or they didn't know, or they didn't care, and it's incredible."
He also seemed to allude to the annual U.S. trade deficit by saying the U.S. is losing "a tremendous amount of money ... close to $800 billion a year."
Trump has been criticized for prior speeches in which he has claimed that eliminating the trade deficit would save the U.S. money that it could use to pay down the national debt. These critiques note that the trade deficit is a scorecard of net spending on imports, and is not money that would be suddenly available to the government if it were instead spent on domestic goods.
Others have speculated that Trump wants to use the tariffs imposed on imports that are collected by the U.S. Treasury to pay down the national debt.
The national debt sits at $21.7 trillion, and rose recently after Congress agreed to a $300 billion spending boost over the last two years.
The increases have worried conservatives, and last week, Trump called on his Cabinet to find 5 percent spending cuts to their agencies in an effort to pare back spending.
The debt is still on course to rise further, however, and the annual budget deficit in 2019 is expected to exceed $1 trillion.