President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, a renowned fiscal hawk, to manage the country's purse strings as the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Observers have noted that Mulvaney's historically strict adherence to curbing the national deficit may bristle against Trump's ambitious spending plans.
On Dec. 17, Trump announced his plans to appoint Mulvaney to head the OMB. The South Carolina lawmaker is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and has a reputation for calling for steep federal budget cuts, USA Today reports.
"Right now we are nearly $20 trillion in debt, but Mick is a very high-energy leader with deep convictions for how to responsibly manage our nation's finances and save our country from drowning in red ink," Trump said an official statement.
Rep. Mulvaney released his own statement pledging to "restore budgetary and fiscal sanity in Washington after eight years of an out-of-control, tax and spend financial agenda, and will work with Congress to create policies that will be friendly to American workers and businesses."
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The 49-year-old South Carolina lawmaker has distinguished himself in Congress by pursuing dramatic cuts in the federal budget, proposing slashing a Pentagon fund by $3.5 billion in 2013 as well as proposing an amendment to eliminate $20.4 billion in federal spending for the military and hurricane disaster relief aid.
In 2011, Mulvaney was among the GOP lawmakers who had voted against raising the U.S. debt ceiling, asserting that the vote was a protest against what conservatives deemed to be high federal spending.
Mulvaney has also questioned the wisdom of the federal government funding scientific research into the effects of climate change and countering diseases. In September, the South Carolina lawmaker had asserted on his Facebook page that the government was not obligated to fund research into the link between microcephaly and the Zika virus, Slate reports.
The House Speaker, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, released a statement praising the selection of Mulvaney to head the OMB.
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"Mick Mulvaney is the absolute right choice … he has been a conservative reformer from day one, proposing solutions to fix the budget process and our regulatory system," Ryan said.
Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and an acquaintance of Mulvaney, said that the fiscal hawk will not moderate his views after being put in charge of the OMB.
"He's not going to back down," MacGuineas told CNN Money.
Meanwhile, chief global strategist Greg Valliere of Horizon Investments expressed bafflement at Trump's pick, suggesting that Mulvaney's philosophy on spending will clash with Trump's ambitious spending plans.
"No one in Washington can quite figure out the appointment of deficit hawk Mick Mulvaney to head OMB," Valliere said. "I don't know how he's going to work."
Valliere pointed out that Trump has proposed dramatic tax cuts across the board and a massive investment in infrastructure without making any changes to Social Security. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget projects that that agenda will add $5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.
"Trump is a big spending Keynesian in some respects," Valliere said. "How does a big spending Keynesian coexist with Mulvaney?"