He said it in February:
Q Sir, do you worry that your budget passes along problems to future generations? You often say you don’t want to do that.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m confident our budget addresses a very serious situation, and that is, we are at war, and we are — had dealt with a recession. And our budget is able to address those significant factors in a way that reduces the deficit in half. We propose, the Congress disposes. And so we look forward to working with the appropriators to meet our priorities and to reduce the deficit in half. We’re confident we can do so.
He’s said it over and over again on the campaign trail, repeating it as recently as August 9th:
So I can say to you that the deficit will be cut in half over the next five years, and we’ve just got to keep working that way.
But, as Poppy would say, it’s not gonna happen:
Almost regardless of what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush is very unlikely to fulfill his promise of reducing the federal budget deficit by half within five years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said today.
In the last independent assessment of Mr. Bush’s fiscal legacy before the elections, the Congressional agency said that if there were no change to existing law, the federal deficit would decline only modestly from a record of $422 billion in 2004 to about $312 billion in 2009.
If Mr. Bush persuades Congress to make his tax cuts permanent, he will fall even farther short of his promise. The federal deficit could reach nearly $500 billion in 2009 and the federal debt could swell by $4.8 trillion over the next decade.