Wallace Presses Mulvaney on Deficits: ‘Isn’t President Trump the Big Spender Now?’

• February 11, 2018 10:57 am


Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney argued Sunday that the Trump administration is not being inconsistent by signing a budget deal that increases spending.

Mulvaney addressed the concerns of fiscal conservatives by saying that President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are constrained by political "realities." Chris Wallace, the host of "Fox News Sunday," asked whether the projected $1.2. trillion deficit in 2019 is Trump’s responsibility after officials such as Mulvaney decried Obama administration-era spending.

"There's always a reason. In other words, you're saying it's the Democrats’ fault. Obama might have said it was the Republicans’ fault in the recession. Bottom line, isn't President Trump the big spender now?" Wallace asked.

Mulvaney replied by questioning the premise that deficits will necessarily increase. He said the 2018 deficit would indeed increase, but he said that wouldn’t go on "forever" and then assured Wallace that the budget rollout coming Monday would show that it will help the deficit in the long term.

"The truth of the matter is that when we roll out the budget on Monday, which is tomorrow now, you are going to get a chance to see how we can avoid that future," Mulvaney said. "The budget does bend the trajectory down, it does move us back towards balance, it does get us away from trillion-dollar deficits."

He added that the parameters of the budget deal do not mean the administration cannot find ways to save money.

"Just because this deal was signed does not mean the future is written in stone," Mulvaney said. "We do have a chance still to change this trajectory and that's what the budget will show tomorrow."

Wallace then inquired about whether the budget that the White House is set to release would reflect the budget deal just struck in Congress.

"This may be the most complicated budget anyone is ever going to do," Mulvaney replied. "Tomorrow what we are going to be doing, Chris, is we’re going to be doing an update to our 2018 budget, which we released back in the spring in order to bring it in line with the spending bill that was passed last week."

"We’re saying, ‘Look, you don't have to spend all of this money, these are spending caps. You don't have to spend all that.' We are going to show how you can run the government without spending all of that," Mulvaney added. "And that will be our 2019 budget, but if you're going to spend it—which is exactly what we think Congress is going to do—here's how you should spend it, and that will be our 2018 budget."

Mulvaney said the White House would prefer Congress use the money for things such as opioid relief and infrastructure, which are "in line with the president’s priorities."

"Take the money the Democrats want to put to the social programs and move it to things like infrastructure, move it to things like opioid relief," he said. "Move it to things that are in line with the president's priorities, so that if it does get spent, at least it gets spent in the right places."

Mulvaney said Trump’s primary concern on the budget was defense spending, and he said Democrats did not engage Republicans honestly on that.

"[Democrats] said publicly that they wanted to work with us on [defense], but when the doors closed, what happened was they would not give us a single dollar worth of additional defense funding without giving us additional money for welfare spending," Mulvaney said.

"The truth of the matter is because of the 60-vote rule in the Senate, we need Democratic support. And Democrats would not support our increase in defense spending without that dramatic increase in social welfare programs," Mulvaney added.