Media and political pundits are understandably focused on battles over who President-elect Trump will appoint to serve in high-profile Cabinet positions such as Secretary of State. Yet one of the most critical appointments he will have to make will be his selection to head the less glamorous Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Trump’s choice for the post will go a long way toward determining whether government grows or shrinks during his tenure.
OMB helps supervise all executive branch agencies and prepares the President’s overall budget. The office will be instrumental in determining whether the nation is able to get its fiscal house in order, but doing so will require that a committed fiscal conservative is named as the agency’s Director.
Some good news emanated from Trump Tower in New York on that front, as conservative stalwart and budget hawk Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) interviewed for the position.
Mulvaney, a champion of fiscal restraint, balanced budgets, and limited and responsible spending, would be the perfect person to head the office. Since his election to the House, he has been a leader in the effort to repeal Obamacare, and has fought to restore the proper balance of power between the federal government and the states.
As President Trump and Republicans in Congress face the challenges of repealing Obamacare and restoring sanity to the federal budget process, they will need a dependable ally at OMB who won’t be co-opted by the career bureaucrats who so often work tooth and nail to protect their turf and obstruct presidential ambitions.
One key reform Republicans are likely to consider would involve expanding the review of the economic costs from proposed rules and regulations. President Reagan successfully used executive orders to establish a central review of pending rules to ensure that the costs to society from new regulations did not outweigh proposed benefits. President Clinton subsequently weakened those rules and severely limited reviews to only the most “significant” actions.
Regulatory agencies are adept at fudging the numbers enough to ensure that most proposed rules do not trigger the “significant” label, even when their economic costs are likely to be very high. It will be the OMB Director’s job to rein in such behavior and force reform onto a stubborn bureaucracy.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence has been leading the transition process with an aim of ensuring that conservatives play critical roles in the Trump administration despite Trump’s more fluid ideology. Interestingly, Mulvaney and Pence worked together in Congress on many of the issues the White House will have to address, so they could just prove to be perfect allies in a fight to roll back sixteen years of government growth and the unmitigated expansion of federal power.