Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney defended the fact that his fiscal year 2019 budget request does not balance, and said Monday that Congress' rejection of his savings proposals has put a balanced budget out of reach.
"It’s not hypocritical," said Mulvaney, a self-professed deficit hawk who pushed hard for spending cuts as a member of Congress. "It’s simply adjusting to the Washington, D.C., we live in."
The White House's fiscal year 2019 budget, unveiled Monday morning, doesn't have the budget balancing in any of the next 10 years. Instead, the administration has touted that it shows the debt declining relative to the size of the economy, thanks largely to steep cuts to domestic programs and the assumption that economic growth will pick up.
As a member of Congress, Mulvaney criticized the Obama administration for submitting budgets that never reached balance.
But in a briefing with reporters at the White House Monday, he acknowledged that his own budget fell short of that goal, and said it's no longer possible to balance the budget through savings from nonentitlement programs. President Trump has ruled out reforms to Medicare or Social Security retirement.
Mulvaney noted that he stated as much last spring. Then, in an editorial meeting with the Washington Examiner, he said that it wouldn't be possible to write a future budget that reached balance unless Congress immediately acted on some of his proposed spending reforms.
In the end, though, Congress only acted on a tiny fraction of those proposed cuts, and Republicans bargained with Democrats to increase spending over the next two years, making the budgeting task harder.
"I hope there’s some value in being honest with people about what the fiscal situation is," Mulvaney remarked.
Yet he insisted that he still believes in deficit reduction.
"I will always be a deficit hawk," he said. "I am today, I was yesterday, I will be tomorrow."