Fiscal responsibility is key to draining the swamp, the White House budget chief said Saturday in remarks to an annual gathering of conservative activists outside Washington.

“We cannot permanently drain the swamp if we don’t reduce spending in agencies that are regulating the American people, that are filling the offices across the country, the accounts, the number of employees in these agencies,” Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.

“We connect draining the swamp to our efforts to reduce spending,” Vought said.

President Donald Trump has faced criticism from conservatives for signing budgets from Congress that escalate federal spending and debt. However, Trump consistently has proposed budgets to reduce the deficit and debt

Vought said Trump has proposed more deficit reduction than any other president in history.

Vought also stressed deregulation efforts that are boosting the economy. Trump promised to eliminate two regulations for every one regulation adopted, he said, and in practice that ratio has become 8 to 1. 

It’s a big difference from the previous administration, he said. 

“Barack Obama in his first three years in office added $240 billion in cost to the economy,” Vought said. “This president has relieved $50 billion in cost in the first three years. We are going to double that in the next year.”

Deregulation has helped the United States become energy independent, said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who joined Vought on the CPAC stage. 

After a 40-year moratorium, Bernhardt said, Trump opened up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling. 

“We won that in legislation and we’re about to finalize leasing for that,” Bernhardt said, adding:

Beyond that, we have dramatically changed the concept of energy development on federal lands to the point where our revenue from energy development last year was 98% more than the last year of the Obama administration. We have increased our permitting processing and produced 300% more applications for drilling wells last year than in the last year of the Obama administration.

CPAC, the largest annual national gathering of conservative activists, runs through Saturday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside Washington.