BY DAVID MCINTOSH, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR – 01/23/17 01:40 PM EST
President Trump has chosen a smart and proven fiscal hawk to direct his Office of Management and Budget (OMB), South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney. He has a record of leading Republicans and even working with Democrats to cut federal spending, rein in the debt, and shine the light of transparency on how the federal government handles our tax dollars.
In 2011, just months after arriving in Congress, Mulvaney drafted the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, which became the centerpiece of the conservative response to another proposed increase in the debt ceiling.
Mulvaney and other House Republicans agreed to swallow the higher debt limit in exchange for real spending cuts, caps on future spending, and serious action toward a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
Cut, Cap, and Balance passed the House with bipartisan support, but was killed off by 51 Senate Democrats.
Five-and-a-half years ago, when Mulvaney’s Cut, Cap, and Balance Act was rejected in the Senate, the federal debt was already at $14.3 trillion. Today, it’s nearing $20 trillion. It should be clear by now that it’s time to listen to what Mulvaney has to say about federal spending.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is charged with developing the president’s federal budget. Writing the White House budget is a serious responsibility that should produce a realistic reflection of the president’s priorities. That budget is also supposed to be the opening entry in a serious back-and-forth dialogue between Congress and the administration.
President Obama’s budgets were anything but realistic. In fact, the Obama budgets were laughable. They were so completely misguided and unrealistic that that they went down in flames in Congress, even among Democrats. His 2016 budget failed in the Senate by a vote of 98 to 1.
The House defeated Obama’s 2015 spending plan by a near-unanimous vote of 413 to 2. That year’s budget was so out of touch that House Democrats didn’t even want to bring it to the floor for a vote. You know who did? Mick Mulvaney. As a Republican House member, he brought the 2015 Obama budget up for a vote to force Democrats to go on the record in rejecting it.
“Any time the president of the United States takes the time to produce a budget, it merits a debate,” Mulvaney said at the time. “I think it’s a valid discussion we should have every year.”
Federal spending is a serious matter for Mulvaney. So much so that he’s led bipartisan efforts to shine a light on wasteful government spending.
He co-sponsored a measure with Democrats to stop Congress from using a well-worn budget gimmick to boost military spending with an unaccountable off-the-books budget. Calling the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account a “slush fund,” Mulvaney acted to bring transparency to defense spending by sharply restricting the use of the OCO.
Mulvaney also worked across the aisle on legislation to give the government modern tech tools to combat the waste and fraud of improper government payments.
The Office of Management and Budget has estimated that the federal government wasted $137 billion in FY 2015 on payments to ineligible recipients, payments for good or services that were never received, duplicate payments, or incorrect amounts paid to eligible recipients.
The measure Mulvaney championed to stop this problem was signed into law by President Obama.
The OMB Director should be someone who intimately understands fiscal policy and who has the knowledge to get in the weeds and make reforms that save taxpayer dollars.
Mulvaney also authored a bill that would have overturned an Obama Administration Executive Order and saved money in the process. His legislation would tell federal agencies that bidding for federal construction projects should be open to all businesses.
It would open the market to the more-than 80 percent of construction workers who are currently ineligible to be part of a federal construction project. And, that vastly increased competition will save money on those projects.
Mick Mulvaney has proven credibility when it comes to aggressively confronting federal spending. At a time when our $20 trillion debt is barely even whispered about by those inside the beltway, the Trump administration couldn’t have a better mind for drawing up the blueprint to cut spending or a better voice to champion cuts and reforms than Mick Mulvaney.
David McIntosh is a former Indiana congressman and the president of theClub for Growth, the leading free-enterprise advocacy group in the nation with a national network of over 100,000 pro-growth, limited government Americans.