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Trump budget pick clashes with Senate Democrats over entitlements

Carolyn Kaster / AP

President Trump's choice to head the Office of Management and Budget, Representative Mick Mulvaney, stood firmly by his belief that cuts to Social Security and Medicare were needed to save those programs.

As Bernie Sanders pointed out, this view can't be reconciled with President Trump's repeated and explicit promises not to cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security.

Nonetheless, Mulvaney pledged to stand by his own view and counsel the president on the need for cuts. Other key exchanges from the hearing:

  • Mulvaney recanted his previous claims that Social Security and Medicare were unconstitutional.
  • He said that using "Ponzi scheme" as a descriptor for Social Security was accurate because of "how the money flows" from workers to retirees, and because the program depends on there being more workers than retirees.
  • Senator Corker asked whether Trump's promises to not cut entitlements suggested that he may not know the magnitude of the problem with entitlements, and Mulvaney replied "I'd like to think that's why he hired me."
  • He stood by his vote in the House to prioritize debt payments in case of a debt ceiling breach, and argued that the debt ceiling was a useful tool to control spending. This is in contrast to Treasury Secretary-designate Mnuchin's comments last week, who took a more moderate position.
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