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Pence: Tax Plan Could Increase Deficit ‘Maybe in the Short Term’

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday morning acknowledged that the Trump administration's tax proposal could increase the deficit, at least at first.

"Maybe in the short term," he said during an exclusive interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," while predicting that it would eventually be overcome by economic "growth."

"The truth is," he added, "if we don't get this economy [growing] at 3 percent or more as the president believes that we can, we are never going to meet the obligations that we've made today."

Pence: Deficit Growth? 'Maybe in the Short Term' 2:01

"The president has proposed one of the largest tax cuts in American history," Pence said.

On Wednesday, the White House released a one page outline for changes they want to see in the tax code, including lowering individual tax rates to 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, and also cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent.

Based on the single page of tax reform goals released by the White House this week, many economists have predicted that implementing all of the changes could increase the deficit by trillions of dollars.

Pence's appearance coincided with the Trump administration hitting their 100-day mark in office, as they work to defend themselves from stories about their lack of notable legislative success.

The vice president pinned blame for the stall of their health care bill on the GOP-controlled Congress.

"I have to tell you, the legislative process is often slow," he said. "It's the old saying, 'if you like sausage, don't go where they make it,' right? And we are making law here. We are re-making one of the worst pieces of legislation in modern American history."

Full Pence Interview: Healthcare Reform is 'Just Around the Corner' 15:13

Pence in many ways has become the White House's point person on health care reform on Capitol Hill, and he said Sunday that "Congress obviously wasn't ready to begin the process of repealing Obamacare a little more than a month ago," but now, "we are close."

He also raised the possibility of addressing health care by executive action.

"We are hopeful there will be action in the House of Representatives soon," he said, "through executive action and through further legislative action that we're on, our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare and give the American people the kind of world class health care they deserve."

Last month, discussions around proposed American Health Care Act — backed by the White House and House Speaker Paul Ryan — went down in flames after they set their own deadline to vote on the bill but could not gather up enough votes in the House to pass it.

Then this week, the House Freedom Caucus, who helped scuttle the bill last time, announced their support of the legislation with the addition of what's being called the "MacArthur Amendment," but more moderate members have since expressed new reservations.

That amendment would allow states to opt out of two insurance regulations: Essential Health Benefits and narrow components of the Community Rating. States would not be able to waive out of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, but they would be able to ask for a waiver where insurance companies can charge people with pre-existing conditions more.

Pressed on whether a bill would be passed before 2018, Pence said, "I hope before the end of the year."