Budget

OMB chief: People are 'immune to the true costs of government'

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) 

"People think government is cheaper than it is," OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said.

The head of the Office of Management and Budget warned that balancing the federal budget by reducing spending alone would require double-digit cuts.

"I don't know if the country is ready to balance the budget based just upon reducing spending," OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said on May 17. "Keep in mind what you would have to do: It'd be a 12 to 13 percent across-the-board cut this year," he said.

"We've trained people to be immune to the true costs of government. People think government is cheaper than it is," Mulvaney said in remarks at a Federalist Society event.

Mulvaney and the Trump administration are banking on economic growth spurred by regulatory reform to partially offset planned tax cuts.

"Say what you want to about Donald Trump," Mulvaney said. "You've never heard anyone say that he is not absolutely committed to regulatory reform." Mulvaney said that reducing regulations on business was a part of the strategy to achieve 3 percent economic growth annually.

The Trump administration's 2018 budget request will be released May 23. That plan, Mulvaney said, will include big changes for federal agencies including the reorganization of independent regulatory agencies under the purview of the executive branch.

Mulvaney added that Trump's political appointments are a way to "bring those independent agencies into the fold."

He said that for example, in the case of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "we could appoint someone who could run it in a meaningful way, or perhaps not even open the doors at all," he said. "That's a joke, by the way, for the press who are here. But only a little bit."

Mulvaney said how the CFPB is "dealt with in the policies and the budget as we roll them out next week ... [is] something that could apply to many of the other agencies."

However, Mulvaney said the administration would be looking for more enduring ways to enact reform that can't easily be undone by an administration "who doesn't see things" the way the Trump one does, including moving independent agencies within the executive branch.

"At the end of the day, the argument is extraordinarily sound to bring all of the [independent regulatory agencies] under the executive branch," he said. "If they're not where we want them to be, if they're not in the executive branch and subject to oversight by us… where's the accountability?"

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a former FCW staff writer.

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