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Trump’s pick for budget director has urged big spending cuts

President elect-Donald Trump's pick for budget director, South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, right, leaves Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 5.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice as his budget director, is a fierce deficit hawk with a record of pushing deep spending cuts across the federal government to balance the budget.

The 49-year-old from South Carolina, just reelected to a fourth term, is co-founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus that pushed former Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) from power.

As director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney would be responsible for Trump’s budget submissions to Congress. Those budgets are likely to address Trump’s campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut taxes broadly and boost spending on public works and other projects.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mulvaney would lead an office that coordinates federal regulations, putting him in charge of repeals of Obama administration rules. Trump has been critical of several of President Obama’s executive orders, including those involving climate change, reining in Wall Street and protecting immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

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Strongly anti-establishment, Mulvaney has supported cuts beyond what House Republican leaders preferred and has refused to back deals to raise the government’s borrowing limit, recently causing heartburn for current Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

The nomination probably will soothe fiscal conservatives but could put Mulvaney at odds with Trump, who has pledged additional spending for transportation, military and veterans’ healthcare while offering few details on how to pay for it. Trump has previously suggested that the government should take on new debt for many of the spending projects because interest rates are so low.

Mulvaney said he looked forward to working with Congress to create policies that will be “friendly to American workers and businesses.”

“The Trump administration will restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington after eight years of an out-of-control, tax-and-spend financial agenda,” he said.

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House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco calls Mulvaney a “radical” who consistently voted to cut Medicare benefits. She notes that he was a supporter of government shutdowns in 2013 and 2015 over spending that Republicans opposed for the healthcare law and Planned Parenthood.

“We cannot have an OMB director who sees inflicting pain on working families as leverage for his radical agenda,” Pelosi said.

Mulvaney was elected in the 2010 tea party wave. He defeated Democratic Rep. John Spratt, who had been chairman of the House Budget Committee, by branding him as a big-spending liberal.

Mulvaney quickly came to oppose Boehner’s leadership before helping push him out in 2015. In 2013, Mulvaney declined to support Boehner’s reelection as speaker. That year, Mulvaney unsuccessfully pushed for amendments to reduce Pentagon funding and proposed across-the-board federal cuts, including for the military.

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