Conversation with White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney CSPAN July 28, 2017 8:00pm-8:33pm EDT
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announcer: tonight on c-span, white house budget director mick tovaney, the latest official be profiled in our series. following that, president trump speaks to police officers in new york about efforts to fight gang violence and organized crime. from senatewe hear minority and house democrats. white house budget director mick the trumpas been with administration since february. he sat down with c-span to discuss his personal life and career, which included three terms as the congressman from south carolina's sixth district. he talked about his involvement with the tea party and what it's
like to work for the president. this is 30 minutes. is the job of budget director? mr. mulvaney: it's the greatest job no one has ever heard of. the description of it is if you live outside of the beltway, you have never heard of omb, if you live inside the beltway, you have no idea what it does. it as wheredescribe are thecy police -- we policy police for the president. we make sure other parts of the executive branch are following through on the president's policy. we serve as a central junction box for the government. every dollar that goes from treasury out to the agency's this office. every regulation that comes from the agency ends up coming through this office. we handle procurement for the federal government. we handle a lot of personnel
issues. a lot of i.t. issues. we work with the inspector general at all of the agencies. we don't do anything, but we oversee everything. and that's been kind of neat. host: how much of it is policy and how much of it is numbers? mr. mulvaney: same thing. our policy is numbers. every line item of the budget is a policy for the president. if the president wants to spend more money on school choice, we would go into every line item in the budget that touches on school choice and make sure there is adequate funding to support the president's initiatives. that is assuming approved by congress -- because they still appropriate -- we make sure that before the money this agency or that agency, they are using it to follow through on the president's policies. for us, money and policies are the same thing. host: how important is the
president's budget? many people say they are dead on arrival. mr. mulvaney: they are. nobody gets their exact budget passed. they are guides, and 'sticulation of the president priorities, one of many ways the president says to congress i want more money for x, less money for y. .ometime -- for y to ape it will inform them greater extent than it would under president obama's administration where many of his priorities were not in line with republicans on the hill. we hope to have a lot less daylight between our ideal budget and the hills ideal budget. done the first budget blueprint. how did you begin and how did you put it all together? this newney:
administration is not the best example of how a budget process works. it's that way for every first year of the new administration. inre was a budget blueprint march, the discretionary part of the budget, about one fourth of the money we spend. we will unveil the full budget, , in ahas 10 year plans couple weeks. we are working on the 2018 budget now and preparing the first steps of the 2019 budget. the work inget, this office starts in earnest in september of this year, september of calendar year 2017 we work on fiscal year 2019 budget. about thent to talk politics of washington and
whether or not you think it is working, but one issue that comes up often is why not have a two-year budget? what are the advantages and disadvantages? mr. mulvaney: a lot of advantages. one of the things we hope to talk about with people on the hill is budget reform. the chairman has some neat ideas about how you do a two-year budget, a rolling two-year budget. do six spending bills -- there are supposed to be 12 and that process has completely broken down. and each of those is for two years. the next year, you do another six for another two years. each year you are doing half a budget for a two-year basis. that's a tremendous idea and one we want to explore on the hill. there are a lot better ways to budget than we do and a two-year budget is one of them. host: how do you get there? my experience is
congress only fixes things after they are broken. we are not very proactive. i think the folks on the hill are now coming to the full realization that the spending , when regularken conversation about a government shutdown is not out of the ordinary. spendingsive omnibus dols like we are going to today or tomorrow, that's not the ordinary process. folks have started to realize that they can't do what the constitution wants them to do, which is exercise the power of the purse. once they recognize it's broken, that should usher in a conversation about how to fix it. you have to admit you have a problem before you can go into recovery. maybe all of the government is starting to enter the realization that the process needs to be fixed. the budget in i
the mick mulvaney household? mr. mulvaney: i give it to her and it is dead on arrival. she does a great job managing the household. we have 317-year-olds at home. three 17 euros at home. we have very clear guidelines. i am in control of everything outside the front door. the yard in the garden. we live on 16 acres. the house,es inside it's hers, everything from education to the cooking budget to the utilities. i still more and around -- run around and turn down the heat in the winter in turn up the air in the summer, and she comes behind me and fixes that. host: how did you meet your wife? mr. mulvaney: i picked her up online at a bookstore in 1991.
i was trying to get her attention so i did dramatic readings from dr. seuss books while she was behind me in line. host: her reaction? disgustaney: complete and disinterest overcome only by unbelievable persistence on my part. host: what did you see in her? magiclvaney: there is now formula on how to meet the special person in your life. i don't know how you met the person you might be with. it could be a bar, a church. a bookstore is not a bad place to meet somebody. host: triplets. 17 years old. mr. mulvaney: yeah, yeah. what did you want to know? host: whatsit like to raise triplets? mr. mulvaney: for us, it's completely normal to come home from the hospital with three kids because we don't know any
different. these are our children. i don't know how to describe it to people. it's like having a slumber party at your house every single night. at least it was. two of the kids are already away from home. my daughter skipped a year of -- my daughter is a senior in high school. she skipped a year in school. she is at a publicly funded boarding school. one of my sons is a year behind her in school. things are a lot quieter at home. host: what are their names, and are they similar or different? the thing about having triplets is it's one science experiment about nature versus nurture. anyn tell you that without reservation, my children are who god made them to be. they had that personality in the
womb. we went a lot to do the sonograms, the ultrasounds. you could see the children, and the personalities they had in the womb are the personalities they have us 17 year olds. my daughter couldn't stand her brothers and spent most of the time in the will and beating up on them. they do look like brother and sister. when caroline was seven, she came home and announced she was changing her name to isabel. most of her friends call her that. i still call her caroline. i guess that's what dad's do. she is going to georgetown next year, so i might actually get a chance to see her more now that she is a college than when she was in high school. when did you first become interested in politics? mr. mulvaney: a little bit in high school. i was student body president my senior year, but that was almost
an accident. i wasn't very involved in college, may be some minor things, and then did nothing the local when republican party came and asked me to run for a seat because they needed somebody on the ballot. the republican party in rural south carolina at that time was almost nonexistent. i went to a meeting and there were four people at it. i ended up winning a seat in the state legislature. i was the first republican to hold that seat of her. year, our senator retired and i ran for that seat and became only the second republican in that seat. , i got angry at a member of congress, previously conservative senate democrat who voted for a bunch of stuff like obama care so forth, and i ended up winning on the tea party
wave. it was fun while it lasted. i am glad to be out of it. it was never my strength. in and much rather sit office and work than go out and work a room or shake hands with people to raise money. i am much more results oriented. i enjoy spending time in that office. i would rather work 18 hours a day doing this than six hours a day shaking hands and kissing babies, so this is my dream job. host: robert smalls was the last seat, thehave that last republican. do you know anything about him? mr. mulvaney: he was a runaway slave. extraordinary. fairly famous. i'm glad you know the name. he got national attention for the work he did. to remind people
that the republican party used to be and could be again a stronger friend to the african-american community. we have lost touch with that over the course of the last couple of generations, but there is a tremendous opportunity to rebuild that. host: and you come from a part of the country that has a distinct accent, but you don't have one. mr. mulvaney: no, i went to catholic school with yankees even though i was born in the south and raised there. i can do it if you need me to. i do it a lot easier after a couple of beers or a glass of wine at the end of the day. it is still part of my vocabulary, it just doesn't sound like it coming out of my mouth. aboute thing understanding southern but speaking without an accent is translate for trey gabi. we would go places and when we were in the deep southern part
of the district, he would tell people what i was saying, and i could translate for him. it was a fun company should. host: what was -- fun, nation. -- fun combination. host: what was the biggest learning curve for you in congress? mr. mulvaney: everybody who comes out of state legislature ve kind of ahead of the cur when it comes to congress. so much of what we did when i was on the hill has parallels and analogies in the state legislature. it was in process as much as size and scope of what you were doing. our budget in the state government was $7 billion or $8 billion. the budget here is $1 trillion. we will spend $4 trillion. the scope and size really surprised me.
-- $8 billion, our entire , is not a lot of money, if that sounds right, in a federal government when you are spending $4 trillion. host: a $20 trillion debt. due debts and deficits matter? yes.ulvaney: i thought dick cheney was wrong when he said deficits don't matter. you could make the argument that statement was taken out of context, but he has had it hung around his neck for a long time. deficits absolutely matter, especially when you don't have a plan to pay it back. i i take money from you but believe i am going to give it back to you and you believe i am going to give it back to you, we call that debt.
if i take money from you and we don't believe i am going to give it back, we call that safed. .e are's -- call that theft we are stealing from our grandkids. would be better off printing new dollars every single year for every deficit dollar we run, because that makes you and me pay for our own deficit. if we have to put all this money in circulation, the money in our pocket is worth less, and then we would feel what we are doing when we borrow money. but right now, we borrow it from our grandkids. we don't feel it. they do. i think i could make a strong argument that snow tomorrow or sensible thing -- that's not a moral or sensible thing to do. host: do you cut spending, raise taxes, combination of both? spendingney: you keep in line. i don't think it's a political spendingnt to cut
dramatically. you can reform and spend in line but you cannot balance the budget this year. you would have to cut about half $1 trillion. that this we did year, every elected official becausese their jobs the people back home are not ready for that. what you try to do instead is keep spending under control, reduce it where you can, reform it where you can, take a long fixing mandatory spending programs and then figure out a way to grow the economy so that revenues catch up. way tonot cut our surpluses in the 1990's. we did not tax our way to surpluses. clinton administration didthe gingrich led house
welfare reform and passed spending restraint to keep flat while the economy grew and revenues caught up to spending. that's why we had a surplus. that is why you are seeing so much focus on this -- in this administration on economic growth. you can grow your way to a balanced budget. compromise does begin? where do principles and? how do both parties come together on this? mr. mulvaney: you can compromise without compromising principles. you and i can find common areas to agree on without compromising our principles. when i first got here, i've met a guy named peter welch. he's fairly left-wing, a democrat from vermont. he and i were trying to save energy in federal buildings.
i remember asking him why he wanted to do this with me because he was left-wing and i am not. he said i don't like wasting anymore than you do. i am at three hugger and i think wasting energy is bad for the environment. i said i don't like wasting energy either. i especially don't like the fiscal impact of that. so we found we could work together on something that lined up nicely with his principles and mine. it was a compromise but neither of us cover my sour principles. give what advice would you democrats and republicans on the hill today? mr. mulvaney: spend more time talking about what we agree on and less what we disagree on. we need to get health care out of the way. that was never going to be a bipartisan bill. it wasn't bipartisan when it became law. it's not going to be bipartisan on its way out. indemocrat worth his weight democratic brand will vote to
get rid of obamacare. but once we vote to get rid of it, which i think we may be doing by the time this airs, at least in the house, then the opportunity exists going forward, once obamacare is gone, to reform it in the years to come on a bipartisan basis. is how do we use deal along to her with the costs of prescription drugs -- how do we deal long term with the costs of prescription drugs? that could be bipartisan. malpractice reform ip able to be -- might be able to be bipartisan. whatever health care environment we end up in at the end of this, maybe we can all improve it going forward on a bipartisan basis. host: when did you first meet donald trump? mr. mulvaney: i've met him a couple of different times, at golf tournaments, believe it or
not. i was at a golf tournament with raisinggraham wer money for wounded warriors. thet him once or twice on campaign trail with rand paul. i've bumped into him a couple of times. than had and said more high to him until i interviewed for this job -- had not said until he hi to him interviewed for this job. i was really excited because i wanted this job since i was on the budget committee in the house in 2011. the budget director at the time -- orzack, i think. i asked my staff what the office of budget management does. they gave me this write up of
what it is. i was like, wow, this sounds like a cool job. the more time i spent on the budget committee and other committees including small business and government -- omb keptmd cap popping up again and again. i said this is the job i would love to have. i worked with rick perry in 2012. he asked me what job i would want if he won and i said this. rand paul got the same answer. the lord wanted me and i'm glad donald trump gave me the chance to do it. host: is it the job you expected it to be? onlyulvaney: absolutely, better. it's 16-18 hours a day, fabulous. the smartest people in the government work in the office of management and budget. accountant, an economist, a budget person at department of agriculture,
my guess is you are not fully appreciated because you are at the department of agriculture. an economist working on and --ag issues may not be the highest and best position at the ag department. but those people somehow over the course of their career always make their way to office of management and budget. work at othero agencies figure out where they want to be and they self select. we have the most talented people in the government and it is fabulous to work with them. we have people who have been here since the 1970's. they are not democrats or republicans. they are public servants, and they take their job extraordinarily seriously. it is a great experience to work with them, and they work a lot. host: and you have pretty good real estate. only a few hundred feet from the
white house, across the street from the eisenhower building, and historic building in itself. the best place to be an washington, d.c., because i am next to the west wing but not in it. when people are pulling out their hair, i can sit in my nice , quiet office. work of my friends who across the street are sort of jealous of the peace and quiet you can get over here. it's a beautiful building. it's a museum. there is an approved list of smithsonian things i can hang on the wall. it's fine. it's a little fancy for me sometimes. host: tell us about your name. joe kennedy is a friend of mine, congressman from massachusetts. he had a locker just down the aisle for me at the gym when i was on the house. i kept calling him patrick and
he would say it's joe. really say i'm sorry. he would say try to remember, i'm named after my great uncle. i said joe, i am an irish catholic male between the ages of 35-55, all of us are named after one of your great uncles. ted, john, my dad is mickey because his parents were mickey fans. my sister is kerry. , there is a strong irish catholic community and we name our kids after the kennedys. host: what did your dad play? mr. mulvaney: he went to college. he got drafted by the mets and chose to go to college instead, which was a good decision. my guess is he was a better businessman ben ace ballplayer -- than baseball player. he also started off as an english teacher.
74, turns 75 this month. he lives in florida. they watch me on tv and send me reviews of my grammar. host: what do they tell you? mr. mulvaney: to talk slower and be nicer. gave a widely televised press conference yesterday on the budget, and i got back and my wife said i looked intense. in the mulvaney family, that means i was mean and nasty. so i am going to try to be warmer and fuzzier. i don't do warm and fuzzy well. i am a numbers guy. work much more closely with intense, mean and nasty, then warm and fuzzy. host: what is your family business? my brother manages money for apple computer. my sister is in the arts, a nationally recognized poet, playwright, actress.
my brother-in-law runs the drama for -- in in wall south carolina. my brothers wife raised their kids. close family, traditional, irish catholic. the cousins are all on good terms with each other. the brothers and sisters get along. i was ready to work with my dad. my brother left town because he wasn't ready to work with my dad. host: what it like to work with your dad? mr. mulvaney: wonderful and horrible at the same time. i talked to joe kushner quite a bit. -- jared kushner quite a bit. now heed for his dad and works for his father-in-law. it's a fraternity of family businesses like anything else. the highs are higher and the lows are lower, but that's life. it's wonderful.
i look back on the eight or 10 years i worked with my dad as some of the most fun times i ever had. host: do you apply any of those lessons to working with donald trump? mr. mulvaney: it prepared me certainly well. my dad meant toward me. entored me. he prepared me as much as anyone else. i think that men and women that are -- are looking for intelligent. and character. i will close with this. right after they offered me the job co, i was speaking to steve bannon. i felt comfortable opening up to him. i said -- there may be places
where i disagree with this president. is there room in this organization for dissent? and he responded that not only is there room, we actively encourage that. peopleot want a bunch of that just agree but that disagree in an intellectual fashion. that is what he wants. that is what my dad wants -- that is what my dad wanted. smart leaders surround themselves with smart people but not people that participate in group think. they put in folks that think for themselves. get as good information as they can as cogently argued as they can be. every position i have had since has prepared job
me for this and i am happy that it did. is the private donald trump different than the one the public sees? >> the same exact person. i know a lot of celebration -- i know a lot of politicians that are like that and many that are not. what you see is what you get. it is honest and open and there for everyone to see. i find it extraordinarily refreshing. might notple that believe that back at him. the same president you see in front of the cameras is the same that you see in the oval office. donald trump one and i'm glad he is president of the united states. >> mick mulvaney, thank you for your time. c-span's washington journal, live every day with