Another Fine Mess Congress Has Made

No cameras were allowed in the White House briefing room for the rollout of the president’s budget, in part because OMB Director Mick Mulvaney’s hair was a mess.

“This is going to be really, really boring and really, really hard,” a disheveled Mulvaney warned the reporters assembled for the late afternoon budget briefing.

Admittedly, this photo was taken on a different day. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Over the last three days, the Office of Management and Budget had taken the new deal from Congress on spending caps and incorporated it into the president’s fiscal year 2018 and 2019 budgets, Mulvaney explained.

“Let me tell you what that entails. We started on the '19 budget in—is it June? About? Okay. So, which means we put about seven months' worth of work in the last three or four days,” he said.

“We probably could have waited to go through a thorough analysis so—yeah, by the way, my hair is going to look like this for the whole rest of the time,” Mulvaney said, trying to smooth his locks.

And, not only had Congress passed a new deal to allow more spending, but had almost completely ignored all the cuts that the White House sent up last year, the budget director fumed.

“We sent up $54 billion worth of savings last year to [Capitol Hill], and they took about $5 billion worth of it. They didn’t make any of the large structural changes that we proposed,” Mulvaney said. 

The president’s FY 2019 budget probably could have been made to balance, he said.

But, reporters would have, rightly, “just absolutely excoriated us for using funny numbers,” because it would have taken funny numbers to do it, Mulvaney said.

Now, the window is closed for producing a budget that balances in 10 years, he acknowledged.

“I think I stood here at this podium [last year] and said, ‘I think this will probably be the last budget we can balance within the 10-year window, unless there's dramatic changes.’ And there weren't any dramatic changes,” Mulvaney said.

“That's just the reality of the situation,” he said.

After a nearly hour-long briefing that ended just after 5 p.m., Mulvaney finally cut off reporters’ questions.

“I am not going to take any [more] questions because, honestly, I'm just whipped. I've been doing this for four days,” Mulvaney said, before heading back to his office.