It was reported Friday that Donald Trump will nominate Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney to head the Office of Management and Budget, an announcement expected to be made official on Monday.
This is a fantastic choice by the president-elect.
I’m a fan of Mulvaney, not only because he’s a fellow South Carolinian, but most importantly, while many Republicans talk about cutting spending without ever lifting a finger to make it happen, he has always been willing to attack the budget in its totality, unafraid to target sacred cows.
With the exception of entitlements, there is arguably no greater sacred cow among the Washington elite than the Pentagon—and Mulvaney has long made it a mission to go there.
The congressman was a driving force behind the 2013 sequester that forced Congress to reduce spending—the most significant legislative achievement the tea party ever had—that included $500 billion in automatic cuts to the Defense Department (of course, Democrat and Republican hawks sought to undo the deal as quickly as possible).
“I was the one who offered the amendment to freeze defense spending,” Mulvaney said at the time. “I’m not one of those Republicans who thinks that defense spending is off the table.”
Mulvaney went in-depth with The American Conservative in 2012 on why it was important to look at Pentagon spending:
I think it is important that conservatives show a willingness to look at all spending with the same level of critical analysis. To think that the Defense Department is somehow immune from the same tendencies toward inefficiency and waste as we know all other areas of government to possess, is just absurd. More importantly, perhaps, showing that willingness builds our credibility when it comes to reducing spending elsewhere.
Mulvaney added, “Too many Members of Congress are still afraid to cut even a penny from the defense budget out of fear of looking ‘weak on defense.’ We need to change the culture that exists now that equates dollars spent with commitment to national defense.”
Needless to say, many Republican hawks—most particularly the neocons that consider the debt doubling, Iraq War-starting George W. Bush years the ideal Republican model—don’t like Mulvaney.
An amusing example I recall is how the neoconservative Washington Free Beacon gloated that Mulvaney had been denied the chair of the Republican Study Committee in 2014.
Here’s the Free Beacon’s report on the “libertarian” Mulvaney’s defeat by “defense-oriented conservatives” (emphasis added):
Defense-oriented conservatives won out in races for the chairmanships of key House panels, and in at least one case, a member’s perceived weakness on defense issues may have scuttled his bid to lead an influential bloc of House conservatives.
Tuesday’s leadership elections, which will determine some of the most influential lawmakers of the 114th Congress, could prove another setback for what was once perceived as a rising tide of libertarianism in the GOP and an accompanying aversion to military intervention and defense spending.
That sort of noninterventionist position contributed to the defeat of Rep. Mick Mulvaney’s (R., S.C.) bid to lead the Republican Study Committee, a 173-member bloc of the party’s most conservative members…
A group of hawkish RSC members circulated a letter to their colleagues in July that spelled out the importance, in their view, of maintaining the group’s commitment to a strong national defense and opposition to federal defense cuts, including those implemented by budget sequestration provisions.
Like many of RSC’s libertarian-leaning members, Mulvaney placed a higher premium on deficit reduction than a robust defense budget.
This is neocon-speak.
In contrast to neoconservatives who were mostly silent Friday evening regarding Trump’s latest pick, here is how two actual conservatives greeted the news that Mulvaney would probably become budget director:
Mulvaney was one of the earliest congressional supporters of Rand Paul’s presidential bid and has been a leading force along with Justin Amash in the House Freedom Caucus and Liberty Caucus.
“I would love to be the director of OMB,” Mulvaney wrote on Facebook in October, prior to the election.
“That is where I think REAL improvements could be made in how the government is run,” he added.