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OMB Nominee Vows to Tell Trump Truth on Entitlements, Deficit

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), the Trump administration’s nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget, told the Senate Budget Committee today that he was ready to tell the president when he is wrong.

Opening Mulvaney’s confirmation hearing before the committee this morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he wondered how President Trump could have nominated someone like Mulvaney who is so “diametrically opposed” to the president’s campaign positions on saving Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare programs.

“The ideas and opinions of Mr. Mulvaney are way out of touch with the American people,” said Sanders, the ranking member of the committee. “And more importantly, they are way out of touch with what President Trump campaigned on.”

Sanders pointed out that Trump had promised, during the presidential campaign, to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But Mulvaney, Sanders said, had in the past called all three programs “unconstitutional.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) reminded Mulvaney later in the hearing that he had once referred to Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme.”

“The only thing I know to do is to tell the president the truth, and the truth is that if we do not reform these programs … I believe in nine or 10 years the Medicaid trust fund is empty and roughly 17 or 18 years the Social Security trust fund is empty,” Mulvaney said in response to Sanders’ question of whether he would now advise Trump not to cut the entitlement programs. “…As I sit here, I will not be arguing to the president of the United States that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional.”

Of his nomination, Mulvaney said, “I imagine that the president knew what he was getting when he asked me to fill this role.”

And the truth Trump needs to hear, as Mulvaney sees it, is that if Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs are not reformed, their trust funds will run dry.

“We do have a chance to fix these programs,” Mulvaney said.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said it was good that Mulvaney was willing to disagree with the White House. “The president of our country deserves a clear-eyed view, not rose-colored glasses,” Cotton said.

Mulvaney told the Budget Committee that the nation’s debt, which he pegged at nearly $20 trillion, was like a credit card bill of $260,000 for an average American family.

“I believe as a matter of principle that the debt is a problem that must be addressed sooner rather than later,” Mulvaney said in his opening remarks. “I also know that fundamental changes are necessary in the way Washington spends and taxes if we truly want a healthy economy.”

He also assured the committee that his recommendations would not include an end to Social Security.