Mick Mulvaney, who once made a name for himself as a deficit hawk, is now being forced to defend the Trump administration’s record-breaking budget deficits as the president’s interim chief of staff, Newsweek reports. Mulvaney was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus and a Tea Party member, and until recently, was widely known as a fiscal conservative who detested large deficits and growing government debt.
In his new role, however, Mulvaney finds himself presiding over substantial spending on top of a $1.5 trillion tax cut which has put even greater pressure on revenues flowing to the federal government.
“[The administration] is spending a bunch of money on stuff we’re not supposed to,” Mulvaney said in an interview, before acknowledging that his former congressional colleagues are accusing him of “losing” as a result of the spending.
“At least I’m losing at the very highest levels,” he quipped in reply. His words came in response to accusations by Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, who criticized Mulvaney’s role in advancing and exacerbating the now record-high national debt of $22 trillion.
“It sounds like my friend Mick Mulvaney is not winning on some of the fiscal issues down at the White House,” Meadows had said.
Increased spending coupled with tax cuts are responsible for 60 percent of this year’s budget deficit. According to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, this year’s budget deficit would have been on pace to be the lowest since 2007, approximately $360 billion, instead of the nearly $1 trillion currently at play under the administration’s leadership.
Frustrated though he may be, Mulvaney is not the first Republican deficit hawk who has been forced into essentially abandoning previous economic principles after coming into contact with the Trump administration. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan had been a vocal opponent of such deficit spending under then-President Barack Obama, but quickly became a strong supporter of the Trump tax cuts, which set the stage for Congress to manage an aggressively growing budget deficit.
“It’s a great irony that not just Paul Ryan but Republicans who claim they care so much about the deficit have now presided over huge increases in the budget deficit,” said Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen at the time.
In addition to acknowledging the tight spot he now finds himself in with respect to budgetary policy, Mulvaney has also described his plans to boost morale at the White House, which he said needed a lift when he came on board.
“When I got here, morale wasn’t what it needed to be,” he said, indicating that they had installed a popcorn machine in his office and started office-wide happy hours.
“I eat more with the president now,” he added as he continued to discuss morale around the White House. “He eats hamburgers all the time.”