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White House budget director Mick Mulvaney's opposition to federal deficits and debt appears to be selective, says Public Citizen. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

The Mulvaney Doctrine: Sacrificing the Disadvantaged for Trump's Corporate Agenda

Budget director Mick Mulvaney and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also clashed at a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Thursday

Deirdre Fulton

There's a new doctrine dominating policy decisions in Washington, D.C., and it sacrifices the poor, elderly, and disadvantaged at the altar of corporations and the ultra-wealthy. 

The Mulvaney Doctrine, as defined by watchdog group Public Citizen in a report (pdf) released Thursday, prioritizes concern over federal deficits and debt—but only when that concern helps to advance a corporate agenda. Named after White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, the doctrine explains how the current administration justifies deep cuts to Medicaid and healthcare embedded in President Donald Trump's budget and the GOP's Trump-backed American Healthcare Act (AHCA), while promoting huge tax breaks for the rich. 

"The message from Mulvaney is clear: Deficits and debt don't matter when it comes to policies that benefit the wealthy and large corporations," said Michael Tanglis, senior researcher for Public Citizen's Congress Watch division and author of the new report. "Policies that benefit the most vulnerable among us—the old, the sick, the hungry—on the other hand, not only can't add to the debt, but also must be cut in the name of reducing it. This is the Mulvaney Doctrine."

The report delves into Mulvaney's "obvious hypocrisy and outright reversals" both as a U.S. congressman (he formerly represented South Carolina in the U.S. House before being tapped to lead the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB) and now as budget director. While Mulvaney has been described as a "fiscal hawk," the report says, a closer look at his record suggests "he is more aptly defined as a 'selective fiscal hawk'."

Perhaps most egregiously, Public Citizen points out:

In 2013, Mulvaney claimed it was hypocritical for Republicans to advocate for large cuts in funding for federal agencies while excluding the U.S. Department of Defense. "It undermines Republicans' credibility on spending issues," Mulvaney reportedly said, if "we're not willing to also look at the defense budget for possible savings." But the 2018 budget Mulvaney's office released on May 23 calls for an increase in defense spending while making deep cuts at other federal agencies.

Public Citizen wasn't the only one giving Mulvaney grief on Thursday. During a Senate Budget Committee hearing, the budget chief and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) reportedly clashed, "interrupting each other and raising their voices," according to The Hill

The outlet reported:

Sanders kicked off the hearing by charging that the budget's repeal of the estate tax would give massive breaks to the country's wealthiest families—including President Trump's family, which he estimated would save $4 billion, and the Walton family of Walmart fame, which he said would save $52 billion.

Sanders asked Mulvaney to explain why America's richest family needs a $52 billion tax break, while people who rely on programs such as Meals on Wheels and Medicaid would be left out in the cold under Trump's budget.

Mulvaney was previously criticized for claiming such cuts were "compassionate" to taxpayers. 

Watch below:

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