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Economy & Business

‘Extraordinarily Disturbing’: Mulvaney Calls Out Republicans for Hypocrisy on Deficits

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney answers questions during a news briefing at the White House, October 17, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday that he sees congressional Republicans as hypocritical on deficits, abandoning their commitment to curtail runaway spending when their party holds the White House.

“My party is very interested in deficits when there is a Democrat in the White House. The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama was the president. Then Donald Trump became president, and we’re a lot less interested as a party,” Mulvaney remarked to an audience of a few hundred at the Oxford Union, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Mulvaney added that he finds the country’s nearly $1 trillion deficit “extraordinarily disturbing” but said the GOP is “evolving” under President Trump. The issue does not inspire strong feelings with either lawmakers or voters, the former head of the Office of Management and Budget observed.

The Congressional Budget Office warned last year that Trump’s tariffs on China will hurt U.S. GDP, saying the comprehensive budget deal the president signed in August will drive up the federal deficit to higher levels than expected.

That bipartisan budget bill will lift the debt ceiling until 2021, set a $1.37 trillion limit on agencies’ annual budgets for fiscal year 2020, and raise that limit further for fiscal year 2021. It will also essentially end the automatic spending cuts put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

“The nation’s fiscal outlook is challenging,” CBO director Phillip Swagel said in August. “Federal debt, which is already high by historical standards, is on an unsustainable course.”

In December, Mulvaney said the budget years of 2017 and 2018 particularly bothered him because Republicans held the White House as well as both the House and Senate and the deficit nevertheless continued to widen.

“Even when the Republicans are in charge of the House, some Republicans like spending money as much as Democrats. It’s hard to stop spending money,” Mulvaney said last year.

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