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Even though he oversaw the production of President Trump’s ugly first budget proposal, there appears to be quite a lot to like about Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and also the legitimate interim director of the constitutionally–questionable Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
Specifically, the thing to like most is his truthfulness, which may very well get him in trouble in the swamp that is Washington D.C. There was a fantastic illustration of his character yesterday, when he was testifying about President Trump’s budget proposal on Capitol Hill, as reported by Reuters‘ Katanga Johnson and Susan Cornwell:
The White House budget chief said on Tuesday that, if he were still a member of Congress, he “probably” would vote against a deficit-financed budget plan he and Trump are proposing.
At a U.S. Senate panel hearing where he defended the administration’s new $4.4-trillion, fiscal 2019 spending plan, Mick Mulvaney was asked if he would vote for it, if he were still a lawmaker, which he was before Trump hired him.
“I probably would have found enough shortcomings in this to vote against it,” said Mulvaney, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in reply to a senator’s question.
The frank admission by Mulvaney, formerly a Republican member of the House of Representatives and noted deficit hawk, underscores not only his new job at OMB, but also a rapid retreat from fiscal conservatism by Republicans since Trump signed a major tax cut bill in December.
Mulvaney’s comments drew rare praise from across the political aisle, as later tweeted by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who had asked the question that prompted his response:
It was nice to hear an honest answer from OMB Dir. Mulvaney in the budget hearing today. I asked if he would vote for President Trump’s budget if he were in Congress, and he said that he wouldn’t. That’s one thing we agree on! –PM
In his comments, Mulvaney went on to recognize that his role as President Trump’s OMB Director requires him to “try and fund the president’s priorities,” which is why the President’s first budget proposal doesn’t look like something that he would have voted for while he served in Congress, but at least we now have confidence that President Trump is hearing solid fiscal advice before he sets his policies. He might choose to disregard the advice he receives, but at least he’s hearing it when it matters.
As for what other troubling truths Mulvaney may have passed on to President Trump before speaking publicly, The Hill‘s Sylvan Lane has an interesting anecdote from last Sunday’s talking head news shows:
White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that rising federal deficits could force interest rates to spike after President Trump signed a bipartisan budget deal with $300 billion in new spending.
Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace that the spending boost could drive up interest rates, but that the economic growth unleashed would eventually pay down the debt.
“If we can keep the economy humming and generate more money for you and me and for everybody else, the government takes in more money, and that’s how we hope to be able to keep the debt under control,” said Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
That might be a big “IF” in the years ahead. It would be a different story if we had a President with a stronger commitment to restraining the growth of the government’s spending, but that’s not the President we have. Nor is it something that we’ve had since the turn of the century.