- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 28, 2018

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday there are still ways the administration can propose to trim spending on Social Security and Medicare without limiting basic benefits — something President Trump has said he won’t do.

He said the key is to find programs that siphon money from entitlements, but aren’t part of the core programs. He pointed to Medicare money going to pay students’ medical school tuition as the type of target the administration could try to tackle without cutting into Americans’ benefits.

“You can reform and save a ton of money in Medicare and Social Security and not touch the primary pillars for the next several years,” he told state legislators at an event hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Mr. Mulvaney said those bigger changes will still be needed, eventually, but that it is not on his list right now.

“In the long term you’ll have to fix those things. The president has asked me to fix the easy stuff first,” he said.

Mr. Mulvaney, as chief of the Office of Management and Budget, is Mr. Trump’s ax-man, pushing for reductions in spending.

He said the federal government faces as “structural deficiency” in trying to trim the budget, complaining that part of the problem is Congress micromanages agencies.

He said there are just three agencies that will spend less, and hire fewer people, this year compared to last year. All of them operate outside of Congress’s appropriations process.

One of those is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Mr. Mulvaney is running as acting director.

“So if you let the Trump administration and his appointees run an agency, we’ll do it cheaper and with fewer people and do it better,” he said.

He told the state lawmakers he’s looking to them to pioneer budget-cutting changes at their level, which he said could eventually change the culture in Washington.

“If there’s any real hope for fiscal discipline in this country it’s with you fine folks,” Mr. Mulvaney said, “We look to you for ideas.”

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

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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