The United States Senate has confirmed Rep. Rick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican and a long-time bitcoin supporter, as President Trump’s budget director, a positive signal for bitcoin. Mulvaney has a reputation as a fiscal hawk and is expected to play a key role in the administration’s plans to make changes in Washington, D.C., according to The New York Times.
Mulvaney has been interested in bitcoin since 2014 after participating in a Small Business Committee hearing on bitcoin. He said it could influence monetary policy. He has also accepted bitcoin donations.
He and Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, launched the bipartisan Blockchain Caucus in September.
Other pro-bitcoin enthusiasts in the current administration include Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder who served on Trump’s transition team, Balaji Srinivasan, 21.co-CEO and potential FDA director nominee, and Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO who joined Trump’s team of advisors.
A Narrow Confirmation
The Senate confirmed Mulvaney by a 51-to-49 vote along mostly party lines. Arizona Republican John McCain joined Democrats in opposing the nomination. McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, objected to Mulvaney’s support for military spending limits. McCain said it would be irresponsible to place the future of the defense budget in Mulvaney’s hands.
Mulvaney will lead the Office of Management and Budget with a full agenda, since the administration has to prepare a budget and decide whether to raise the debt limit. The administration has also pledged to introduce a tax plan soon.
Mulvaney favors big changes in Medicare and in raising the Social Security eligibility age, a position Trump opposed during the presidential campaign. Mulvaney’s positions on government spending also are not consistent with Trump’s promises to invest in infrastructure and the military.
Mulvaney blamed Democrats and a handful of Republicans for the government shutdown under the Obama Administration.
Where Mulvaney Differs From Trump
During the nomination proceedings, Mulvaney defended his plan to support entitlement program cuts that Trump said he would protect.
Speaking before the Senate homeland security and budget committees, he acknowledged that his positions on the national debt and spending are not in sync with Trump’s campaign pledges and statements from some advisers.
Mulvaney also said during the nomination proceedings he will continue speaking out about the rising costs of Medicare and Social Security.
Mulvaney said he favors raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70, but he said he would not cut benefits for current recipients. He said he supports means testing to qualify for Medicare.
Democrats warned that the nomination indicated Trump was changing his stated intention to protect entitlements.
A Fiscal Hawk
Mulvaney has questioned the need to raise the national debt ceiling, saying he believed the government should prioritize payments if there is a danger of breaching the debt limit.
Mulvaney, elected to Congress in 2010, is known as a strident deficit hawk. He was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus and a leader in the group’s attempts to remove then-House Speaker John Boehner in 2015.
He supported the government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act and was willing to do it again two years later in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.
Mulvaney backs the “penny plan” to cut 1 percent of federal spending each year for five years.
He is among those lawmakers who have opposed infrastructure spending. Trump’s advisers have not said how the government will pay for a proposed infrastructure package that could reach $1 trillion.
Trump’s plan to cut taxes could reduce federal revenue by trillions over the next decade, independent analysts have said. Mulvaney has said reforming the tax code could create growth when asked if tax cuts should be allowed to add to the deficit.
He said Trump should first consider the impact on the overall economy. The best way to cut the deficit or balance the budget is to build economic growth, he said.
Another option is to reduce spending. Trump is considering cutting the Energy and Commerce departments, along with eliminating arts programs.
mage from Flickr/Gage Skidmore.