- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2017

Even with deficits ballooning, President Trump again ordered his budget team not to touch Social Security and Medicare as they scour the government for savings, the White House budget director said this weekend.

Office of Management and Budget chief Mick Mulvaney said he went back to Mr. Trump recently and said they had to look at cutting entitlement spending, and the president rebuffed him.

“He said, look, I’m still not going to do it, but happy to have a conversation,” Mr. Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” Same thing we — discussion we had in the spring, I promised people I wouldn’t change Social Security. I’m not going to do it.”

Mr. Mulvaney recounted his conversation just days after he and the Treasury Department secretary announced the government ran a $666 billion deficit in fiscal year 2017.

That’s the largest deficit in four years, and presages even worse years ahead, according to budget analysts.

Mr. Mulvaney said the White House suggested $54 billion in cuts to discretionary spending this year — programs such as environment, education, federal law enforcement and the like — but Congress has agreed to only about $4 billion.

That leaves entitlements, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps as the other targets — and, analysts said, the biggest drivers of the rising debt.

But Mr. Trump promised during the campaign he wouldn’t touch those big programs, and appears to be holding to that vow.

Mr. Mulvaney, who while in Congress was a prominent budget-cutter, told Fox he will continue to show Mr. Trump the numbers proving entitlements are the driving force in debt.

But he said the other option to solving the deficit is to grow out of it, by jump-starting the economy. A bigger economy means more tax revenue, he said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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