Trump Team, National Debt Needs Attention Fast
US Pesident Donald Trump’s pick for budget director Mick Mulvaney said the nearly $20-T national debt is the equivalent of an ordinary American family owing more than a $250,000 on their credit cards, a problem that needs to be “addressed sooner rather than later,” aka FAST.
“Families know what that would mean for them,” Mr. Mulvaney will say Tuesday in Washington when he faces a pair of Senate Committees over his nomination as director of the Office of Management and Budget, according to his prepared testimony. “It is time for government to learn the same lesson.”
A Republican congressman from South Carolina, Mr. Mulvaney was part of the wave of fiscal-conservative Tea Party members elected in Y 2010 and has been one of the most pugilistic advocates for cutting government spending.
He is one of 8 Trump nominees that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has placed in “the most troubling” column. More than 50 groups have sent letters to Capitol Hill urging members of Congress to reject Mr. Mulvaney’s nomination, arguing he’s too extreme aka Conservative.
Mr. Mulvaney has voted against debt ceiling increases and criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan’s budgets for spending too much.
If he’s installed in the post, and given the leeway to negotiate his way aka the Trump Way, the next debt-limit debate could include a fight over whether future spending should be cut to offset money spent in decades past. The debt limit returns in March, so those discussions aren’t far away.
He will appear before the Budget Committee Tuesday morning and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the afternoon.
“I believe, as a matter of principle, that the debt is a problem that must be addressed sooner, rather than later,” Mulvaney said in the remarks provided in advance of the hearings. “Part of fixing that problem also means taking a hard look at government waste…and then ending it. American taxpayers deserve a government that is efficient, effective, and accountable. American families earn their money honestly; they expect the government to spend it honestly. We owe them that much.”
Mr. Mulvaney said he appreciates the safety net that Social Security and Medicare provide, and would like them to be there for his three children, who are triplets.
Mr. Mulvaney is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, conservative Republicans who have opposed compromising with Democrats just to keep the government operating during budget disputes. He helped lead the Y 2013 effort that resulted in a government shutdown over Barack Obamacare funding.
“I will be loyal to the facts, and to the American people whom I serve,” he said in the prepared remarks.
Mr. Mulvaney’s long-held position that new spending must be offset with equal cuts elsewhere could put him at odds with the president when it comes time to make good on President Trump’s campaign promise to invest $1-T in roads, bridges and other infrastructure. He was on the losing side of a push to ensure spending on Hurricane Sandy relief was matched with reductions in other parts of the government.
Mr. Mulvaney has voted for unsuccessful proposals that sought to cut spending deeply enough to bring the federal budget into balance within a 5-year window. Those proposals by the Republican Study Committee, a faction of fiscal conservatives, included raising the Social Security full-benefits age to 70 and changing the measure of inflation to reduce the retirement program’s payouts.
The most recent version of the group’s budget proposal would have given an extra $38-B to the military while reducing domestic spending by $100-B, in part by eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kennedy Center and ending funding for the Washington, DC-area’s metro transit system.
While a majority of congressional Republicans supported using a war-funding account for regular military needs, Mr. Mulvaney worked with Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen to demand all routine Pentagon purchases stay within legal spending caps. Mr. Mulvaney’s opposition to that cap-skirting maneuver could become another pressure point, given President Trump’s promise to beef up troop levels and weaponry.
Congress is expecting the Trump Administration to send up an emergency military spending request in the next few weeks.