December 17, 2016


Trump Picks Mick Mulvaney, South Carolina Congressman, as Budget Director (MICHAEL D. SHEAR, DEC. 16, 2016, NY Times)

Once on Capitol Hill, Mr. Mulvaney joined a conservative bloc that pressed for slashing federal spending more deeply than House Republican leaders preferred, and became a prominent face of the anti-Washington movement on Capitol Hill. He was one of several dozen House Republicans who refused to back the deal to raise the statutory debt limit.

Mr. Mulvaney has repeatedly opposed some of his own party's budget proposals, and quickly established himself as one of the most outspoken members of that 2010 class of Republicans. By 2013, at the outset of his second term, he declined to support Mr. Boehner's re-election as speaker, abstaining from the vote in protest.

Strongly anti-establishment, Mr. Mulvaney, who has a degree in international economics from Georgetown and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, chafed as much at the Republican leadership in the House as he did at Mr. Obama's direction from the White House.

If confirmed by the Senate to run the Office of Management and Budget, Mr. Mulvaney will be responsible for helping to shepherd the president's spending requests through a Republican-controlled Congress.

We've seen this movie before and we all know how it ends, The Education of David Stockman  (WILLIAM GREIDER,  DECEMBER 1981, The Atlantic)

GENERALLY, he had no time for idle sentimentality, but David A. Stockman indulged himself for a moment as he and I approached the farmhouse in western Michigan where Stockrnan was reared. With feeling, he described a youthful world of hard work, variety, and manageable challenges. "It's something that's disappearing now, the working family farm," Stockman observed. "We had a little of everything--an acre of strawberries, an acre of peaches, a field of corn, fifteen cows. We did everything."

A light snow had fallen the day before, dusting the fields and orchards with white, which softened the dour outline of the Stockman brick farmhouse. It was built seventy years ago by Stockman's maternal grandfather, who also planted the silver birches that ring the house. He was county treasurer of Berrien County for twenty years, and his reputation in local politics was an asset for his grandson.

The farm has changed since Stockman's boyhood; it is more specialized. The bright-red outbuildings behind the house include a wooden barn where livestock was once kept, a chicken coop also no longer in use, a garage, and a large metal-sided building, where the heavy equipment-- in particular, a mechanical grape picker-- is stored. Grapes are now the principal crop that Allen Stockman, David's father, produces. He earns additional income by leasing out the grape picker. The farm is a small but authentic example of the entrepreneurial capitalism that David Stockman so admires.

As the car approached the house, Stockman's attention was diverted by a minor anomaly in the idyllic rural landscape: two tennis courts. They seemed out of place, alone, amidst the snow-covered fields at an intersection next to the Stockman farm. Stockman hastened to explain that, despite appearances, these were not his family's private tennis courts. They belonged to the township. Royalton Township (of which Al Stockman was treasurer) had received, like all other local units of government, its portion of the federal revenue-sharing funds, and this was how the trustees had decided to spend part of the money from Washington. "It's all right, I suppose," Stockman said amiably, "but these people would never have taxed themselves to build that. Not these tight-fisted taxpayers! As long as someone is giving them the money, sure, they are willing to spend it. But they would never have used their own money."

Stockman's contempt was directed not at the local citizens who had spent the money but at the people in Washington who had sent it. And soon he would be in a position to do something about them. This winter weekend was a final brief holiday with his parents; in a few weeks he would become director of the Office of Management and Budget in the new administration in Washington. Technically, Stockman was still the U. S. congressman from Michigan's Fourth District, but his mind and exceptional energy were already concentrated on running OMB, a small but awesomely complicated power center in the federal government, through which a President attempts to monitor all of the other federal bureaucracies.

Stockman carried with him a big black binder enclosing a "Current Services Budget," which listed every federal program and its current cost projections. He hoped to memorize the names of 500 to 1,000 program titles and major accounts by the time he was sworn in--an objective that seemed reasonable to him, since he already knew many of the budget details. During four years in Congress, Stockman had made himself a leading conservative gadfly, attacking Democratic budgets and proposing leaner alternatives. Now the President-elect was inviting him to do the same thing from within. Stockman had lobbied for the OMB job and was probably better prepared for it, despite his youthfulness, than most of his predecessors.

He was thirty-four years old and looked younger. His shaggy hair was streaked with gray, and yet he seemed like a gawky collegian, with unstylish glasses and a prominent Adam's apple. In the corridors of the Capitol, where all ambitious staff aides scurried about in serious blue suits, Representative Stockman wore the same uniform, and was frequently mistaken for one of them.

Inside the farmhouse, the family greetings were casual and restrained. His parents and his brothers and in-laws did not seem overly impressed by the prospect that the eldest son would soon occupy one of the most powerful positions of government. Opening presents in the cluttered living room, watching the holiday football games on television, the Stockmans seemed a friendly, restrained, classic Protestant farm family of the Middle West, conservative and striving. As sometimes happens in those families, however, the energy and ambition seemed to have been concentrated disproportionately in one child, David, perhaps at the expense of the others. His mother, Carol, a big-boned woman with metallic blond hair, was the family organizer, an active committee member in local Republican politics, and the one who made David work for A's in school. In political debate, David Stockman was capable of dazzling opponents with words; his brothers seemed shy and taciturn in his presence. One brother worked as a county corrections officer in Michigan. Another, after looking on Capitol Hill, found a job in an employment agency. A third, who had that distant look of a sixties child grown older, did day labor, odd jobs. His sister was trained as an educator and worked as a consultant to manpower-training programs in Missouri that were financed by the federal government. "She believes in what she's doing and I don't quarrel with it," Stockman said. "Basically, there are gobs of this money out there. CETA grants have to do evaluation and career planning and so forth. What does it amount to? Somebody rents a room in a Marriott Hotel somewhere and my sister comes in and talks to them. I think Marriott may get more out of it than anyone else. That's part of what we're trying to get at, and it's layered all over the government."

While David Stockman would speak passionately against the government in Washington and its self-aggrandizing habits, there was this small irony about his siblings and himself: most of them worked for government in one way or another--protected from the dynamic risk-taking of the private economy. Stockman himself had never had any employer other than the federal government, but the adventure in his career lay in challenging it. Or, more precisely, in challenging the "permanent government" that modern liberalism had spawned.

By that phrase, Stockman and other conservatives meant not only the layers and layers of federal bureaucrats and liberal politicians who sustained open-ended growth of the central government but also the less visible infrastructure of private interests that fed off of it and prospered--the law firms and lobbyists and trade associations in rows of shining office buildings along K Street in Washington; the consulting firms and contractors; the constituencies of special interests, from schoolteachers to construction workers to failing businesses and multinational giants, all of whom came to Washington for money and for legal protection against the perils of free competition.

While ideology would guide Stockman in his new job, he would be confronted with a large and tangible political problem: how to resolve the three-sided dilemma created by Ronald Reagan's contradictory campaign promises. In private, Stockman agreed that his former congressional mentor, John Anderson, running as an independent candidate for President in 1980, had asked the right question: How is it possible to raise defense spending, cut income taxes, and balace the budget, all at the same time? Anderson had taunted Reagan with that question, again and again, and most conventional political thinkers, from orthodox Republican to Keynesian liberal, agreed with Anderson that it could not be done.

But Stockman was confident, even cocky, that he and some of his fellow conservatives had the answer...

Posted by at December 17, 2016 9:25 AM