OMB Nom Signals Difference With Trump On Not Cutting Social Security, Medicare

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January 24, 2017 8:56 a.m.

During his confirmation hearing on Tuesday morning, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Office of Budget and Management, signaled that he will not fall in line with Trump’s views on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Mulvaney has supported major cuts to all three programs and is known as a hard line fiscal conservative on the Hill. His views diverge from those of Trump, who pledged on the campaign trail to leave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid largely untouched.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the Senate Budget Committee’s ranking member, on Tuesday noted Mulvaney’s difference in opinion with Trump, and asked if he would advise Trump to keep his campaign promises regarding Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

“The only thing I know to do is tell the President the truth,” Mulvaney replied, adding that he believes the programs must be reformed in order to remain solvent.

Update at 1:23 p.m.: Mulvaney stood by his past remark that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a “sad, sick joke,” arguing that the agency is “almost completely unaccountable.”

Update at 1:20 p.m.: Mulvaney said that he recognizes that “there is some science that would indicate” human activity causes climate change, but said he is not “convinced” that there is a direct correlation between human activity and the changing climate.

Update at 1:16 p.m.: Murray noted that last week The Hill reported Trump’s team was working to reduce the federal budget by $10.5 trillion over 10 years. She added that it’s been reported that the Trump team is considering eliminating funding for the Violence Against Women Act.

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“I’m not familiar with the details of the budget,” Mulvaney replied. “I’ve not been allowed to see the details of that budget.”

When asked if he would commit to opposing cuts to the Violence Against Women Act, Mulvaney would not say, instead telling Murray that he will merely advise Trump on the matter.

Update at 1:04 p.m.: Asked about his vote to shut down the government in 2013, Mulvaney said that that’s an “oversimplification.” He said there was a “lapse” in appropriations that the “media now calls a government shut down.”

Murray asked Mulvaney if he would commit to pushing back against tea party Republicans who oppose working on a bipartisan budget. Mulvaney said that as OMB director, his “boss would change” and that his commitment would shift to Trump.

Update at 12:56 p.m.: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) told Mulvaney that she has “serious concerns with your nomination,” including that he did not pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes. She told the nominee that it is “not credible to me it never crossed your mind” that you owed taxes.

Update at 12:53 p.m.: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) began an exchange with Mulvaney about taxes by asking about comments Trump and his staff made about crowd sizes at the inauguration. Merkley put up a sign showing pictures of former President Obama’s 2009 inauguration and Trump’s inauguration. When asked, Mulvaney acknowledged that Obama’s crowd appeared larger.

Merkley said that he brought this up because budgets often “contain buried deceptions.” He went on to say that the recent comment about crowd sizes show that Trump and his team sometimes want to “embrace a fantasy.” He said that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer pushed a “conspiracy” that photographers framed their photos of Trump’s inauguration in a deceptive manner. He also noted that Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer, saying Spicer was merely presenting “alternative facts.”

Merley asked Mulvaney if he was comfortable “presenting falsehoods as simply an alternative fact.”

“I am deadly serious about giving you hard numbers, and I intend to follow through on that,” Mulvaney replied.

Merkley then asked if the belief that cutting taxes for the wealthy will increase federal revenue is a “falsehood.” The senator listed tax cuts for the wealthy enacted by past Republican presidents, and said that they decreased federal revenue. Merkley asked Mulvaney whether, if he finds that cutting taxes for the wealthy decreases revenue, he will advise Trump accordingly.

Mulvaney said he would “present him with all possible cogent arguments on both sides.”

Update at 12:23 p.m.: Mulvaney would not say whether he would advise Trump against raising the debt ceiling and instead said that he would inform Trump about arguments for and against raising the debt ceiling.

Update at 12:22 p.m.: Sen. Angus King (I-ME) asked Mulvaney if he believes all tax cuts should be revenue neutral. Mulvaney replied that tax cuts should grow the economy. King responded to Mulvaney, asking for data the congressman has showing that tax cuts help grow the economy. King argued that tax cuts like those from the George W. Bush administration and those that are part of the “experiment” in Kansas did not work.

Update at 12:12 p.m.: Sen. Chris VanHollen (D-MD) noted that Mulvaney signed Grover Norquist’s tax pledge, promising not to close tax loopholes. Mulvaney said that he would no longer be an elected official, but an adviser to the president, suggesting he would no longer hold himself to Norquist’s pledge.

Update at 12:04 p.m.: Mulvaney said that he is not “convinced” that American citizens need to “pay high prices” to combat climate change, when asked if he agrees that climate change, caused in part by human activity, presents a “huge risk.” Asked again by Kaine about risks of climate change, Mulvaney said that he would “challenge the premise of your fact.”

Update at 12:03 p.m.: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked Mulvaney about past comments by Donald Trump saying that a hiring freeze for the federal government would be aimed at weeding out corruption. Mulvaney said that he does not assume that “federal workers are corrupt.” Mulvaney later added that many believe that some federal workers do not live up to expectations.

Update at 12:02 p.m.: When asked how he would try to balance the federal budget, Mulvaney at first replied, “My role at OMB is to advise the President.” When pressed, he said that his first step would be to “grow the economy.”

Update at 11:40 a.m.: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said that Trump said “unrealistic” things during the campaign, apparently referring to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Corker asked Mulvaney if Trump is aware that it would be challenging to balance the budget without changing those programs.

“I have to imagine the president knew what he was getting,” Mulvaney said.”I like to think it’s why he hired me.”

Update at 11:16 a.m.: When asked if he would encourage Trump to keep his campaign promises not to make cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, Mulvaney said, “The only thing I know to do is tell the President the truth.” He added that without reform, funds for those programs would dry up.

Update at 11:13 a.m.: Sanders asked Mulvaney if he believes Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional, noting his 2009 vote in the South Carolina state senate.

“I do not believe that Social Security or Medicare are unconstitutional,” Mulvaney replied.

Update at 11:10 a.m.: Mulvaney addressed his past failure to pay payroll taxes when the question and answer session began. He said that when he hired a babysitter to help when his wife had triplets, he “did not consider her a household employee” and so did not withhold taxes. Mulvaney said that when he received notice from the IRS that he failed to pay taxes, he quickly did everything he could to right the situation.

“I did the only thing I knew to do,” Mulvaney said, adding that he quickly told Trump and the Budget Committee.

“We made a mistake in my family,” the congressman said.

Update at 11:04 a.m.: In addition to his opening statement, Sanders railed against Mulvaney on Twitter at the beginning of the hearing, noting that Mulvaney voted for a South Carolina state provision that declared Social Security and Medicaid unconstitutional.

Update at 11:01 a.m.: Mulvaney focused his opening statement on his commitment to reducing the federal debt, which he said is a large issue that must be addressed. He said that the U.S. should focus on taking a “hard look at government waste and ending it.” Mulvaney did not mention his failure to pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes for a babysitter.

Update at 10:52 a.m.: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced Mulvaney at his confirmation hearing. Graham said that both he and Trump have “confidence” in Mulvaney and said that the congressman will “follow the call of president.” Graham noted that Mulvaney does support entitlements reform but said that he is “able to disagree with people in an honorable fashion.” Cotton seconded that Mulvaney “knows how to work with others.”

Update at 10:45 a.m.: Budget Committee Chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) began the hearing by touting Mulvaney as a “fiscal conservative” who was a “vigilant budget hawk” in Congress.”

The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), began his opening statement by noting that Mulvaney has expressed support for cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social security. Sanders constrasted this with President Donald Trump’s comments on the campaign trail that he did not want to make big changes to those programs. Sanders said that Mulvaney’s views on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are “out of touch” with those of the American people and Trump. Sanders also noted Mulvaney’s failure to pay payroll taxes for his babysitter and that similar issues have derailed past nominees. Sanders added that Mulvaney supported a 2015 bill saying that people with serious tax debts should not serve in the federal government.

Original story:

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Office of Budget and Management, will face the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET, where he will likely face questions about his failure to pay payroll taxes for a babysitter.

The New York Times reported last week that Mulvaney failed to pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes, and the congressman admitted to the lack of tax payment in a statement to the Times.

“I have come to learn during the confirmation review process that I failed to pay FICA and federal and state unemployment taxes on a household employee for the years 2000-2004,” Mulvaney said, adding that he intends to pay the taxes.

Mulvaney’s failure to pay taxes will likely prompt tough questions during his Tuesday hearing, especially given that similar tax issues have ruined past nominees’ chances of being confirmed. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the news about Mulvaney’s taxes “disqualifying” last week.

The OMB nominee will also likely face questions from democrats about Medicare, which he has vowed to privatize, and Social Security.

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