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First, be careful, the deficit is annual additions to national debt. So all he's saying is that the national debt is not going up as fast as it had been. It's certainly not going down (as it did in between 1995 and 2001 — see graph). So in terms of the accumulated national debt, we haven't cut anything except its rate of increase (that's better, but the debt is still headed the wrong way).
Second, he's not talking about the annual gross (total) budget deficit, but only a part of it. As this chart shows, the total deficit has hardly decreased at all.
The eye-popping $9 trillion gross national debt is owed by the "General Fund." That's the part funded by our income taxes. Half of that goes for the military and to pay interest on the debt. Fortunately two huge parts of the budget, Social Security and Medicare, are running huge surpluses.
When politicians (of both parties) talk about the debt, they don't like talking about $9 trillion, so they add up all the funds, as shown above, and talk about the "debt held by the public." They call this the "national debt," and they call its yearly increase the "deficit."
But this way of talking makes it sound like the money put into Social Security and into government and military pensions funds, all of which is borrowed by the General Fund, is not owed to the public. But it is. That money came from everyone's paychecks (FICA) and is owed to them in retirement. Every president has promised to keep that money safe. So, really, the whole $9 trillion is owed to the public.
In fact, over $2 trillion of what they call "held by the public" is actually held by foreign interests, while 100% of what is owed by Social Security is owed to Americans.
How did the General Fund end up $9 trillion in the hole? Tax cuts and spending increases--largely military spending increases, plus there is a little debt left over from WWII. Check when and how did the national debt accumulate?