During a hearing about the $3.6 trillion in cuts to domestic programs included in President Trump’s proposed budget, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney made a case that the fiscal interests of the unborn should take precedence over the lives of present-day Americans — or at least those who rely on food stamps to eat or public schools to educate their children.
During a hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) grilled Mulvaney about the budget’s 25 percent cut to food assistance for the poorest Americans.
“Mr. Mulvaney, at least 20 percent of people eligible for SNAP don’t even receive SNAP because of stigma and other reasons,” she said. “So there are more people who need SNAP benefits… And you have a 13 percent cut in the Department of Education. The most vulnerable kids who need — ”
Mulvaney cut her off and made an impassioned case that people like Lee aren’t sufficiently concerned about his “unborn grandchildren.” He said:
What about the standard of living for my grandchildren who aren’t here yet? Who will end up inheriting $30 trillion in debt? Fifty trillion dollars in debt? A hundred trillion dollars? What about their standard — who’s going to pay the bill, Congressman? That’s what this is all about. That’s what this new perspective is. Who is going to pay for all the stuff you just mentioned? Us? Or somebody else? And I suggest to you if it’s important enough to pay, to have, then we need to be paying for it. Because right now, my unborn grandchildren are paying for it, and I think that is morally bankrupt.
Lee responded by saying, “I have grandchildren also, and I want to make sure that they have the opportunity to get a job, so they can help pay for our government, which is a government that should be enhancing the standard of living and making sure that everyone has a chance for the American dream.”
Mulvaney’s comments fall squarely in the deficit hawk tradition of caring more about the unborn than kids who are actually alive. He suggests the budget’s $191 billion cut to food assistance and $40 billion cut to public service loan forgiveness over the next decade are necessary sacrifices, but fails to mention that Trump’s budget includes a $5.5 trillion tax cut that will mainly benefit the wealthy.
Besides, Trump’s budget — which includes a $52 billion increase in military spending next year alone — wouldn’t really bring down the national debt, despite what Mulvaney claims. As Politico details, Trump’s “first budget as president would increase the debt by more than $3 trillion — and that’s only through rosy assumptions about economic growth and double-counting of tax revenue.”
“The budget uses an optimistic assumption about economic growth, which few economists believe is realistic, and assumes the president’s tax plan is deficit-neutral, despite independent scores that the plan would reduce revenues by around $5 trillion,” Politico reports. “Worse, it double counts up to $2.1 trillion in revenue, a blatant accounting error.”
During Wednesday’s hearing, the unrealistic assumption embodied in Trump’s budget were criticized by Freedom Caucus member Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who said, “This budget assumes a Goldilocks economy. And I think that’s a very difficult thing.” On Tuesday, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) criticized the budget’s impact on poor people, saying in a statement that “the proposed cuts to some federal programs are not mere shavings; they are rather deep and harmful to my district spanning Kentucky’s Appalachian region and other rural, impoverished parts of the country.”
Mulvaney, however, has signaled that the Trump administration is more concerned about reducing tax burdens than preserving services for those who rely on them. In an op-ed published yesterday, he wrote that the budget represents a reversal from prioritizing the interests of the poor to “putting taxpayers first.”
“Taking money from someone without an intention to pay it back is not debt. It is theft,” Mulvaney writes. “This budget makes it clear that we will reverse this larceny.”
Mulvaney’s professed concern about the well-being of future generations is belied by the budget’s drastic cuts to Environmental Protection Agency programs meant to ensure his “unborn grandchildren” will have a habitable planet to live on.