Feb 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Mulvaney calls out Republican hypocrisy on deficits under Trump

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

In a speech at the Oxford Union on Wednesday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged it's hypocritical of the Republican Party to criticize deficits under the Obama administration and ignore them under President Trump, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The deficit has ballooned under the Trump administration and is expected to surpass $1 trillion in 2020, despite Trump's promise on the 2016 campaign trail to eliminate the national debt in eight years.

  • Mulvaney, who was known as a fiscal hawk in Congress and served as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget under Trump, called the growing deficit "extraordinarily disturbing."
  • Trump's 2021 budget proposes $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction, but it would take 15 years to balance.

Other highlights:

  • On climate change: Mulvaney acknowledged that climate change is occurring, but claimed there's a debate about its causes. “We take the position in my party that asking people to change their lifestyle dramatically, including by paying more taxes, is simply not something we are interested in doing."
  • On impeachment: Mulvaney claimed Trump froze military aid to Ukraine because the country had a corruption problem and because of lack of burden sharing with Europe — despite former national security John Bolton writing in his book that it was to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. He also joked about the infamous press conference in which he admitted a "quid pro quo" occurred, calling it a mistake.
  • On his acting status: "It’d be a $20,000 pay cut to take the job," Mulvaney said, brushing off concerns that he's never been appointed permanently. "A life expectancy of a chief of staff is roughly 18 months. Generally speaking, this job does not last that long. ... Who knows how much longer I’m going to last?”

Go deeper: Former chief of staff John Kelly unloads on Trump

Go deeper

Behind the scenes on Trump's chief of staff switch

Mick Mulvaney and Mark Meadows share a laugh at the White House last month. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was in Las Vegas on an annual trip with his brother and friends on Thursday when President Trump decided the time had come to replace him with Mark Meadows.

Between the lines: Mulvaney tells Axios that he and the president had been talking since November about making the change, that Meadows is his longtime friend and that the transition is happening with his blessing. But like so many Trump personnel moves, its execution sent mixed signals and spawned alternative explanations.

Trump names Mark Meadows as White House chief of staff

Mulvaney and Meadows in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 6. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday that he will replace acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)

Why it matters via Axios' Alayna Treene: Meadows recently announced his plans to retire from Congress, and hinted at a job in the Trump administration. Trump trusts Meadows, and has appreciated his fierce and public loyalty over the past years.

It's been a year since the last daily White House press briefing

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The last daily White House press briefing was held one year ago — on March 11, 2019, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was still President Trump's press secretary.

Why it matters: It's a significant milestone that is emblematic of the erosion of traditional norms regarding interactions between the White House and the press corps under the Trump administration.