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Trump's budget director develops the wrong kind of reputation

Mick Mulvaney, Donald Trump's budget director, is going out of his way to prove his critics right.
U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., speaks at the Freedom Summit, Saturday, May 9, 2015, in Greenville, S.C. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/AP)
U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., speaks at the Freedom Summit, Saturday, May 9, 2015, in Greenville, S.C.
When Mick Mulvaney was a member of Congress, the South Carolina Republican, a founding member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, developed a reputation for almost comical radicalism. Now he's Donald Trump's budget director, where he's proving his critics right.Just this week, Mulvaney said he believed that the Obama administration "was manipulating the numbers" on unemployment, which is bonkers. Soon after, the OMB chief was caught brazenly lying -- twice -- about basic details surrounding the health care debate.Yesterday, Mulvaney extremism came into even sharper focus.

Before the Thursday's press briefing got fully underway, White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney defended cuts to community programs, like Meals on Wheels, which provides meals to homebound, often elderly, individuals."We can't spend money on programs just because they sound good and great," Mulvaney said. "Meals on Wheels sounds great. Again that's a state decision to fund that particular portion to it. To take the federal money and give it to the states and say look we want to give you money for programs that don't work. I can't defend that anymore."

Trump's budget director added that cutting assistance to struggling seniors is "one of the most compassionate things we can do," telling skeptical reporters, "You're focusing on recipients of the money. We're trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place." He pointed to programs such as Meals on Wheels as initiatives that are "just not showing any results."The point of Meals on Wheels is to provide food to the low-income elderly. I'm honestly not sure what kind of "results" Mulvaney is looking for -- if the struggling seniors eat the food, and the evidence suggests the meals have a positive impact on their well-being, then the return on Americans' investment is high.This really was just the start of a jaw-dropping presentation. During the same briefing:* Mulvaney said there's no "demonstrable evidence" that after-school programs help at-risk children, despite the demonstrable evidence that points in the opposite direction.* Asked about paying for Trump's border wall, the White House budget chief said, "It's up to somebody else to figure out where the money comes from."* When the discussion turned to climate change, Mulvaney declared, "We're not spending money on that anymore; we consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that."* One reporter reminded the OMB director, "The United Nations said the world is currently facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II -- 20 million people in just four countries facing starvation or famine -- and yet you're cutting funding to the U.N., cutting funding to the foreign aid budget. Are you worried that some of the most vulnerable people on Earth will suffer as a result?" Mulvaney responded that the Trump administration is "absolutely" cutting those funds, adding, "That should come as a surprise to no one who watched the campaign."The old cliché is true: elections have consequences. Listening to Mick Mulvaney yesterday, we were reminded that the consequences of the 2016 elections will be profound.