Budget Director Mick Mulvaney admitted during a Monday evening White House press briefing that the administration’s proposed budget does not balance within ten years, pointing rather to a turn in the “tide.”
Asked about whether the budget balances ever again, Mulvaney said there was a “philosophical conversation” about not projecting past the decade timeline. He said projecting out much farther would “undermine the credibility of the numbers.” He put an emphasis on giving the American people and Congress “real numbers.”
Mulvaney said that there are increased deficits for the first five years of the ten-year projection, attributing that to a decrease in revenues following the tax cut bill that passed last December.
The budget director recalled for reporters that in 2017 he had declared that without major changes, the budget would not balance within a ten-year window. Of $54 billion in proposed savings his office sent up to the Hill last year, Congress took up only $5 billion, according to Mulvaney.
“We knew last year that we’d be facing this,” he said.
Mulvaney admitted to the press that he “probably could have made it balance, but you all would have rightly just absolutely excoriated us for using funny numbers because it would have taken funny numbers to do it.” He added, speaking of the OMB budget numbers, that “these are real numbers.” He said that there were a lot fewer plugged numbers in this budget than in the budget he released last year, “because we have better data.”
“I hope there is some value in being honest with people about what the fiscal situation is,” said Mulvaney. He said while the budget does not balance in ten years, it does “turn the tide … especially when you measure GDP — our debt as a percentage of GDP, we peak about 80 percent here in ’20, ’21, ’22 and we get it down the other way.”
“We’re not condemned to trillion dollar deficits forever. There is a way out of this,” he added, “but we have to take the spending side extraordinarily seriously.”
The budget represents three trillion dollars in savings over the course of the ten years,” he said. “It’s the second largest proposed reduction in spending ever. Second only to last years’ budget.”
A reporter pressed Mulvaney on whether it was hypocritical for him to present a budget that doesn’t balance as someone who considers himself a “deficit hawk.” Mulvaney put the responsibility back on Congress as the body that determines appropriations. “We sent up $54 billion of reductions last year, they took five and pounded the hell out of me while they were doing it,” said Mulvaney, adding that he knows what the attitude is on the Hill. “That’s why we wanted to send both of these budgets,” he said, speaking of the adjusted fiscal year 2018 and new fiscal year 2019 proposed budgets. “We’d love to see them spend less.”
Mulvaney then referenced a weekend tweet from the President before stating that they “had to accept a bunch of additional non-defense discretionary spending in order to get the defense spending we wanted. [The President] said we had to accept a bunch of waste and extra spending in order to get that. That’s not ideal.”
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