Full Budget Release to Push Infrastructure Plan Into Fall: Mulvaney

By Cheryl Bolen

The national debt, mandatory spending, tax policy and revenue flows to the U.S. government will start to be addressed in the president’s full fiscal year 2018 budget submission in May, which will likely push the president’s infrastructure plan until fall, the president’s budget director said.

“We have to do Obamacare repeal and replace first; then tax reform second,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said. “That leaves infrastructure probably third, which may come after the August recess in Congress.”

President Donald Trump has said a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure, including improvements to roads, bridges, airports and other projects, was a top priority and would be presented soon after taking office.

Similarly, Trump said during his campaign that it would be easy to eliminate the national debt over eight years.

Moving Infrastructure Money

The budget blueprint sent to Congress March 16 does not deal with the debt, Mulvaney said. “It even doesn’t even deal with the deficit. It is simply the first part of the appropriations process,” he said.

The budget would take money for infrastructure programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which are “not very well run,” and move the funds into the president’s larger infrastructure plan, Mulvaney said. Similarly, there are cuts in infrastructure programs at the Department of Transportation for the same reason, he said.

“These do not mean the president’s changing his commitment to infrastructure,” Mulvaney said. “So, what we’re doing now is we’re taking it out of the discretionary budget and we’re going to move it into the larger infrastructure plan this summer.”

Mulvaney also downplayed the assumption that the president’s infrastructure plan would add to the deficit.

Another Way

The president also will keep the promises he made on the campaign trail when it comes to entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, Mulvaney said.

“So, just because it’s not here, doesn’t mean we’re dodging the issue,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney also acknowledged that the president’s budget was not popular on Capitol Hill. Trump did not ask for input from special interests or focus on how these programs might impact a specific congressional district, he said.

“The message we’re sending to the Hill is: We want more money for the things the president talked about, defense being the top one, national security,” Mulvaney said. “And we don’t want to add to the budget deficit. If Congress has another way to do that, we’re happy to talk to them about it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheryl Bolen in Washington at cbolen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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