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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told "Fox News Sunday" that he thought the national debt, which reached a record $23 trillion at the end of 2019, was "very manageable" prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: President Trump promised during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years. Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the debt will exceed 100% of GDP in 2021 and rise to 107% in 2023 — the highest in U.S. history.

  • Even prior to the economic disruptions and subsequent government spending causes by the pandemic, the budget deficit jumped 26% to nearly $1 trillion in late 2019, increasing for the fourth year in a row, the Washington Post reports.
  • The deficit had increased nearly 50% during the pre-pandemic Trump presidency.

What they're saying: "We were having extraordinary growth, we were creating growth that would pay down the debt over time. Unfortunately, this China virus has cost us trillions of dollars and as I've said before, this is like a war. In a war, you've got to spend whatever you need to spend," Mnuchin said.

  • "That's the reason why we've spent $3 trillion. We'd spend another $1 trillion. The speaker just wants to spend unlimited amounts of money."
  • "I think the former vice president, if he were elected, would have socialist economic policies that would take the debt out of control. But there's no question in a second term, once the economy is back, we will focus on this issue."

Go deeper: Where Trump stands on economic promises

Go deeper

Biden's economic team will write a new crisis playbook

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden's economic team faces a daunting task helping the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs or otherwise been financially ravaged by the coronavirus. But most of them have first-hand crisis experience, dating back to when Barack Obama inherited a crumbling economy when he took office in 2009.

Why it matters: Most of President-elect Biden's economic nominees served in the Obama administration, and wish that they could have gone bigger to help America recover from the 2008 financial crisis. But it's not going to be easy for them to push through massive fiscal spending in 2021.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.

The perils of organizing underground

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Researchers see one bright spot as far-right extremists turn to private and encrypted online platforms: Friction.

Between the lines: For fringe organizers, those platforms may provide more security than open social networks, but they make it harder to recruit new members.