A recent interview by the New York Times suggests Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney are divided on the issue of whether the administration should push for a ‘clean’ debt ceiling increase or attach preconditions to it.
Mulvaney told the Times that, “Steven is on record in his hearings last week that his preference is to see the debt ceiling raise clean…I think I’ve made it clear that my preference would be to add some spending reforms to it.”
Asked what types of reforms he would seek to add, Mulvaney mentioned “changing the Budget Act of 1974” and pushing for “good governance”, noting that he has a four page document on his desk detailing some of the options the White House could pursue.
In a later interview with the Washington Examiner, Mulvaney clarified that the White House has yet to decide what option they will go with, but confirmed that he has made clear to others within the administration that he would “like to see things attached to it that drive certain spending reforms and debt reforms in the future.”
It was widely expected that Mnuchin, an establishment Republican with a history at Goldman Sachs, and Mulvaney, a grassroots-aligned libertarian, would have some differences of opinion on economic policy. Mnuchin and Mulvaney have been working closely with one another in order to craft the Trump administration’s economic agenda.
The third main figure involved in formulating Trump’s economic policy, Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn, suggested to Bloomberg that taking Mulvaney’s approach may be a necessity in order to get the debt ceiling hike through Congress, even if he is not personally pushing for such measures: “if we need to get things attached to get it through, we’ll attach things.”
Regardless of what ultimately happens, libertarians and conservatives will be pleased that Director Mulvaney is continuing his long fight for greater fiscal responsibility in the executive branch just as he consistently did in the legislative branch.