News & Politics

Mulvaney: Trump Won't 'Weaponize' Potential Shutdown Like Obama Did in 2013

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, White House, Washington DC- 19 January 2018- (Photo by Chris Kleponis/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney said Friday morning that if the government shuts down it will look very different from the shutdown of 2013, when former President Obama’s administration did things to “hurt people.”

Mulvaney added: “There’s no other way to describe it. The Obama administration weaponized the shutdown in 2013.” The budget director was referring to what at the time was referred to as “shutdown theater,” when the Obama administration unnecessarily closed popular attractions like national parks.

Mulvaney told reporters at the White House that the Trump administration would not be doing the same. “What [the Obama administration] didn’t tell you was they did not encourage agencies to use ‘carry forward’ funds,” he said, explaining that the Obama administration had funds at their disposal to lessen the effect of the shutdown on Americans. “Nor did they encourage agencies to use transfer authority. They could have made the shutdown in 2013 much less impactful,” he added.

Mulvaney said he had concluded the Obama administration chose to make the shutdown worse for political purposes.

“We’re going to manage the shutdown differently, we’re not going to weaponize it,” he said. “We’re not going to try and hurt people, especially people who work for the federal government.”

The shutdown theater “gestapo tactics” used by the National Park Service (NPS) under Obama in 2013 remains one of the biggest underreported scandals of the Obama era. NPS “closed” monuments and memorials like the Lincoln and World War II Memorials on the National Mall — with what were dubbed “Barrycades” — even though such memorials were never staffed anyway.

As Jonathan Last wrote in the Weekly Standard at the time:

Just to be clear, the [WWII] memorial is an open plaza. There is nothing to operate.

Sometimes there might be a ranger standing around. But he’s not collecting tickets or opening gates. Putting up barricades and posting guards to “close” the World War II Memorial takes more resources and manpower than “keeping it open.”

The closure of the World War II Memorial was just the start of the Park Service’s partisan assault on the citizenry. There’s a cute little historic site just outside of the capital in McLean, Virginia, called the Claude Moore Colonial Farm. They do historical reenactments, and once upon a time the National Park Service helped run the place. But in 1980, the NPS cut the farm out of its budget. A group of private citizens set up an endowment to take care of the farm’s expenses. Ever since, the site has operated independently through a combination of private donations and volunteer workers.

The Park Service told Claude Moore Colonial Farm to shut down.

Armed park rangers at Yellowstone Park refused to let tourists see or take pictures of “Old Faithful.” Tourists visiting the park said they felt like they were under arrest, with one tourist guide accusing the park rangers of “Gestapo tactics.”

Undoubtedly, most park rangers were unhappy about being forced to harass tourists. One anonymous ranger said at the time that it was just “a cheap way to deal with the situation.” He added: “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.

The White House says President Trump is working with lawmakers behind the scenes on a last-minute spending deal, but Mulvaney says his office is “preparing for what [the Trump administration is] calling the Schumer Shutdown,” just in case.

America can rest assured that the Trump administration won’t engage in the “disgusting” tactics the Obama administration did in 2013 to “make life as difficult for people” as they could.