D.C. Budget Battle: Mulvaney vs Mulvaney

By Alan Zibel

Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director and a former member of Congress from South Carolina, has long advocated for fiscal rectitude. But in 100 days as director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney has shown his concern over deficits applies only to spending on programs for the poor and disadvantaged rather than the wishes of wealthy and powerful corporations seeking tax cuts.

A new report  from Public Citizen Senior Researcher Mike Tanglis highlights Mulvaney’s shifting rhetoric and outright reversals. Some examples:

OLD MULVANEY: In 2013, Mulvaney claimed it was hypocritical for Republicans to advocate for large cuts in funding for federal agencies while excluding the U.S. Department of Defense. “It undermines Republicans’ credibility on spending issues,” Mulvaney reportedly said, if “we’re not willing to also look at the defense budget for possible savings.”

NEW MULVANEY:  The 2018 budget Mulvaney’s office released on May 23 calls for an increase in defense spending while making deep cuts at other federal agencies.

OLD MULVANEY: In 2013, due to the “ballooning deficit,” Mulvaney said that spending $17 billion on Hurricane Sandy relief without offsetting discretionary spending cuts was wrong.

NEW MULVANEY: After the Trump administration proposed trillions in deficit-funded tax cuts this year, Mulvaney explained that deficits “are not driving the discussion.”

OLD MULVANEY: Mulvaney promised in 2012 to “eliminate Washington accounting gimmicks.”

NEW MULVANEY: The 2018 budget proposal includes an egregious accounting gimmick. The administration claims to achieve a balanced budget in 10 years by assuming $2.1 trillion in extra tax revenue from “economic feedback,” apparently reflecting hypothetical benefits from anticipated tax cuts. Making matters worse, the administration uses this same $2.1 trillion in added revenue twice, claiming that it will not only balance the budget but also cover the cost of future tax cuts – a classic case of double counting.

The message from Mulvaney is clear: Deficits and debt don’t matter when it comes to policies that benefit the wealthy and large corporations.