With Mulvaney in Place, Budget Office Preps 'Hit List' on Public Programs

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) is known for his unyielding position on safety net programs. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

With Mulvaney in Place, Budget Office Preps 'Hit List' on Public Programs

National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Americorps are among targets meant to showcase 'waste' of taxpayer funds

With Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) confirmed to lead the White House budget office, the Trump administration is getting ready to follow through on plans to slash major domestic programs, the New York Timesreported Friday.

Work on President Donald Trump's first budget proposal has been delayed as Republicans worked to get Mulvaney--known for his unyielding stances on safety net programs--approved as head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Now, his office has targeted nine popular and critical programs to axe, according to an early internal OMB memo obtained by the Times.

The so-called "hit list" includes, in part, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Export-Import Bank, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps projects.

Most of the programs run on less than $500 million annually--"a pittance for a government that is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year," write reporters Sharon LaFraniere and Alan Rappeport.

But the targeting of these offices seems intentional, LaFraniere and Rappeport note: "While the total amount of annual savings of roughly $2.5 billion would be comparatively small, administration officials want to highlight the agencies in their coming budget proposal as examples of misuse of taxpayer dollars."

Some targets, like the Office of National Drug Control Policy, are notable in their opposition to some of the president's own talking points, they write:

Trump has spoken volubly about the nation's drug problems, yet the list includes the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, which dispenses grants to reduce drug use and drug trafficking. And despite Trump's vocal promotion of American exports, the list includes the Export-Import Bank, which has guaranteed loans to foreign customers of American companies since the 1930s.

Staffers on Trump's transition team toldThe Hill in January that the president was preparing dramatic budget cuts, including to the departments of Justice, State, Energy, Transportation, and Commerce, with some programs slated entirely for elimination.

While not all of those departments were included in the Times' reporting, many of the same programs mentioned by the staffers appear to be officially targeted for cuts.

And several have long been in conservative crosshairs. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich began the crusade against the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1994 during the so-called Republican "revolution," the Times notes.

The memo notes that the list is subject to change, but will be finalized by March 13.

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