attention: deficit

Mick Mulvaney says 'nobody cares' about the deficit. He used to. A lot.

February 6, 2019
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Republicans knew someone would notice if President Trump didn't mention the deficit in his Tuesday State of the Union. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney didn't agree.

When Trump previewed his speech for 20 Republican supporters on Monday, Mulvaney argued that the ballooning deficit didn't need to be included because "nobody cares" about it, ABC News reports. That's not what Mulvaney would've said in his congressional days.

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Before Trump tapped him to direct the Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney was a congressman from South Carolina. And when he campaigned to earn that spot over Democratic incumbent and House Budget Committee Chair John Spratt, he made deficit reduction his "central policy concern," Politico's Jake Sherman recalls. He continued to complain about the national debt and deficit in his budget chair confirmation hearing in January 2017, but showed a shift that October when the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act rolled around.

Ahead of its passage, the Congressional Budget Office concluded the GOP tax overhaul would add $1.46 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. Another report concluded that, with an additional round of cuts proposed but not passed the next year, the total could reach $3.2 trillion. Yet Mulvaney defended the GOP's tax reform proposal all the way, telling Fox News in October 2017 that America needed "new deficits" to grow the economy. That earned Mulvaney a dreaded question from host Chris Wallace: "You were a deficit hawk. What happened, sir?" Kathryn Krawczyk

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