Mulvaney: A ‘Good Shutdown’ Would Prove Trump’s Point About Dysfunction

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speaks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in Washington. Mulvaney discussed the border wall. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP

The White House budget director on Monday threatened Democrats with a government shutdown if they don’t “behave” when it comes time to write a federal budget in September. He also defined a “good shutdown,” advocated earlier by President Donald Trump on Twitter, as one that proved Trump correct about the dysfunction of the federal government.

An animated Mick Mulvaney responded first to a reporter who asked about Trump’s Twitter dispatches Tuesday morning, in which the President urged, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”

“I think the President is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try and spike the football and make him look bad,” Mulvaney said, presumably referring to Democrats’ taunts that Trump got almost nothing his White House budget advocated for.

“I get that frustration because I think it is a terrible posture for the Democrats to take,” he continued. “If we are sitting here trying to prove to people that Washington is going to be different, that we’re going to change things and can figure a way to work with them and they do that to this President, listen, I would have taken offense at that so it doesn’t surprise me at all that his frustrations were manifested in that way. We’ve got a lot to do between now and September. I don’t anticipate a shutdown in September. But if negotiations — if the Democrats aren’t going to behave any better than they have in the last couple days, it may be inevitable.”

“How would a shutdown clean up the mess?” one reporter asked.

“Sooner or later, we’ll have to start doing something different,” Mulvaney said, adding: “If we get to September and it is still business as usual, business as usual, business as usual and nothing changes, and takes a shutdown to change it, I have no problem with that.

Later in the press conference, NBC’s Peter Alexander asked Mulvaney to define what he thought Trump meant by a “good shutdown.”

“I don’t know,” Mulvaney said, pausing. “We haven’t had one.”

“But to the extent the President advocated one today, if you wanted to imagine what a good shutdown was, it would be one that fixes this town,” Mulvaney said. “One that drives the message back home to people that it really was as broken as they thought that it was when they voted for Donald Trump, and they trusted him — if that’s what is necessary to do to fix Washington, D.C., that would be a good shutdown.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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