Mulvaney Defends Trump’s 2019 Budget

Office of Management and Budget director says President Trump's $4.4 trillion document 'invests in things that work'

by Jim Stinson | Updated 13 Feb 2018 at 6:44 AM

With few people happy about President Donald Trump’s proposed 2019 budget, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney took to the White House lectern and said the proposed budget document actually contains a lot for the American people to be happy about.

Mulvaney told reporters in the White House press briefing room that the $4.4 trillion budget plan for 2019 invests more in “things that work,” and that despite the budget deficit contained therein, the plan shows budget-hawkish instincts.

But Republicans and conservatives are not pleased about the budget fix passed last week.

Republicans and conservative commentators such as Brit Hume of Fox News hammered the constant deficits of the 10-year plan.

The first deficit, for 2019, is expected to approach $1 trillion, despite Mulvaney’s boast that the budget predicts 3 percent economic growth.

“The swamp won, and the American taxpayer lost,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the founding member of the Freedom Caucus, on “Fox News Sunday.”

On Monday, after the release of the $4.4 trillion budget plan for 2019, Republicans were mum. Congressional Democrats were also mum, not even bothering to murmur “dead on arrival.” Presidential budgets are famous for being mauled in Congress.

Still, Mulvaney took the opportunity on Monday to boast that Trump’s priorities are apparent in the plan.

Programs aimed at opioid addictions will see a huge increase from last year’s presidential budget, from $3 billion to $10 billion. Fighting opioid addiction was one of Trump’s top campaign pledges in the 2016 presidential election.

The Food and Drug Administration will also get $1 billion more in the budget, to speed up drug approvals. Mulvaney said the federal government — the largest buyer of prescription drugs — saved tens of millions of dollars using generic drugs.

Now the president hopes to save $300 million more with plans to buy generic medicine for its Medicare drug program.

Just as with last year's budget, the plan contains some major policy changes. Like last year, the president proposes zeroing out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which runs PBS. In 2019's budget, Mulvaney said the president also wants to get rid of the current pay-raise system for federal employees.

The federal pay-raise system as it stands is merit-based but awards raises 99.7 percent of the time — meaning it's not truly merit-based, Mulvaney said. Federal employees have asked for a truly merit-based system, he said.

The only assurances Mulvaney gave to conservatives who might be nervous about deficits is that the 10-year plan reduces $3 trillion in spending over time, and that the recently passed tax reform — which cut corporate and individual tax rates — will increase revenues to the U.S. Treasury.

PoliZette White House writer Jim Stinson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, article image: Mick Mulvaney, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)

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