Last week, I made an argument that the position of Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the most important of Trump’s Cabinet picks. This position is directly responsible for managing the federal budget, as well as reviewing all significant regulations promulgated by the executive agencies.
So far, Trump has picked a solid team of individuals to lead his Cabinet.
A member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Mulvaney has long championed a balanced budget, lower taxes, and the elimination of corporate cronyism. This often meant that Mulvaney challenged his own party, especially when it involved expanding the size of government. He led the efforts to try to kill the big-business, lobbyist-loving, Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), and tried to bring down big spending bills, like the Bipartisan Budget Act, a bill that increased spending by more than $63 billion.
Here are five things Mulvaney should focus on as OMB director.
- Rein in regulatory excess
As head of OMB, Mulvaney will have jurisdiction over a little-known office called the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Before regulations can be issued, they must be approved here. This gives Mulvaney incredible authority to institute more rigorous analysis of the economic impact of regulations — and to block or revise regulations that would harm the U.S. economy. With the total regulatory burden estimated at $2.028 trillion, this is a much-needed place for Mulvaney to begin his work.
- Push Congress to repeal unauthorized programs
The Congressional Budget Office releases an annual list of programs that are operating without authorization — that is, programs that haven’t been reauthorized by law, but are still receiving money.
Shockingly, this includes everything from the State Department to the Higher Education Opportunity Act. As head of the OMB, Mulvaney should advocate that no tax dollar be spent on programs that are no longer authorized in law. In total, Congress provided about $310 billion for programs and activities whose authorization had expired. This is a basic proponent of good fiscal management.
- Use the debt limit as leverage to reduce spending
On March 16, 2017, the federal debt limit is set to expire. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the U.S. debt will have reached $20.1 trillion by that date. Mulvaney can use the debt ceiling to his advantage — either by not increasing it all — which would force government spending to be significantly curtailed for several agencies. However, if the debt ceiling must be increased, it also provides Mulvaney the opportunity to use it as a negotiating platform to call on Congress for spending cuts, and regulatory relief.
- Balance the budget
Although I don’t always think it’s necessary for a president to draft a budget — since, after all, the power of the purse resides with Congress — I do believe it can be a blueprint to guide Congress. As the head of the White House’s budget office, Mulvaney will set the agenda for the new Congress with the president’s budget; it can provide a path for priorities like tax reform and Obamacare repeal.
- Reduce improper government payments
In 2015, the government lost a whopping $137 billion! This is the result of the government making payments to individuals or entities that are ineligible to receive government money, waste, fraud, duplicative payments, or just simply, lost the cash. This is no small issue. Consider this: If losing taxpayer dollars was its own program, it would be the sixth largest, right behind the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Mulvaney is the perfect person to implement oversight and efficiencies standards to reduce the amount of squandered government funds.
So far, Trump has picked a solid team of individuals to lead his Cabinet. But perhaps no one is as qualified and tested as Congressman Mick Mulvaney when it comes to leading the Office of Management and Budget. The congressman has a lot of work in front of him, but his selection proves that he’s ready to take on some of the most important issues of our day.
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