Mick Mulvaney: House Budget Hawk Turned OMB Director

A founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) is known as a budget hawk -- a deficit hardliner and one of the key Republicans who led the charge to oust former Speaker of the House John Boehner in 2015. As President Trump’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney will be tasked with keeping tabs on government revenue and spending and overseeing the Trump administration’s regulatory actions, which also means he’ll play a central role in health care and entitlement policy.

Mulvaney was one of the leaders of the effort to defund or delay the ACA that resulted in a 16-day government shutdown in 2013. He also pushed to shut down the government in 2015 instead of continuing to fund Planned Parenthood. As OMB director, he’ll be head of the office responsible for implementing any future shutdowns. Democrats have criticized this willingness to shut down the government and default on the national debt.

Some are predicting that Mulvaney may soon find himself at odds with the Trump administration’s mixed signals on fiscal discipline -- specifically, Trump’s promise of large tax cuts coupled with big spending on infrastructure and assurances that he won’t touch Medicare or Social Security. Not only will Mulvaney be responsible for pointing out when the budget doesn’t add up, he’s also been a leading advocate for Medicare reform, commenting in 2011 that we “have to end Medicare as we know it.” He’s actively supported proposals to privatize Medicare or impose other major changes to the program, and he’s argued that cutting programs like Medicare was the only way to “balance the budget.” 

Mulvaney’s will be an important voice in a powerful agency that must approve any new major federal regulations. Trump has already issued a moratorium on new federal regulations and wants his cabinet to look for "job-killing" rules that should be repealed. If Mulvaney doesn’t quite get to make the rules, he will certainly have a lot of influence in whether they live or die.

Beth Umland
by Beth Umland

Director of Research, Health, Mercer

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