Donald Trump is reportedly refusing to tackle the US’s spiralling national debt because he will not be in office by the time the situation is expected to reach a crisis point.
White House staff are thought to have repeatedly urged the president during his time in office to work on reducing the now $21.8 trillion (£17.1 trillion) America owes its creditors.
Officials had attempted to warn Mr Trump during a meeting in early 2017 that debt could spike further in the coming years.
However, the president is said to have been indifferent once he realised the problem was only likely to become critical after he had completed a possible second term.
“Yeah, but I won’t be here,” Mr Trump remarked, a source who had been in the room at the time told The Daily Beast.
“I never once heard him talk about the debt,” a former senior White House official also told the news website.
“He understands the messaging of it, but he isn’t a doctrinaire conservative who deeply cares about the national debt, especially not on his watch.
“It’s not actually a top priority for him… He understands the political nature of the debt but it’s clearly not, frankly, something he sees as crucial to his legacy.”
The comments supposedly made by the president in private are in stark contrast to his numerous public statements on cutting the US national debt.
During his time in the White House, Mr Trump has suggested pulling out of the Paris climate accord, cutting spending on government agencies, repealing Obamacare and reducing trade deficits as solutions to help pay off debt.
As recently as last month, The Washington Post reported the president had urged staff to draw up a list of wide-ranging government cuts to drive spending down.
However, multiple White House sources told the newspaper that, when push came to shove, Mr Trump was reluctant to make significant savings in many areas.
Administration officials said he ordered the $716bn (£563bn) military spending budget to be largely ring-fenced, while refusing to make cuts to expensive entitlements such as social security and Medicare because of their popularity with voters.
One former official told the Post how Mr Trump would even make repeated and potentially disastrous calls for the treasury to print more money to tackle the national debt.
“He’d just say, run the presses, run the presses,” the source said. “Sometimes it seemed like he was joking, and sometimes it didn’t.”