White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has the hardest job in Washington: he’s the guy whose trying to keep America from going over the fiscal cliff, and it seems that almost everyone is fighting him. The shrieks are the loudest in the Capital City, where last week Washingtonian Magazine ran a headline criticizing Mulvaney’s proposals that read “Proposed Budget Would Leave D.C. Area ‘Pretty Screwed.'” That’s a bit ironic given that most of the budgets coming out of Washington usually lead to the rest of America being screwed. Turnabout is fair play as the expression goes, Washington has lived-large off of everyone else’s money, and now the sky is falling when the White House actually cares about Americans living outside the beltway.
The sentiment expressed in the Washingtonian is one of the symptoms of what is known as “Potomac Fever.” Potomac Fever is something that infects most political insiders who spend too much time inside the D.C. Beltway. The disease gives its victims an unshakable belief that the capital is the center of the universe, and that government spending drives the economy. Government spending is the lifeblood of Washington, and it has made it near recession-proof for decades. Even after the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the Washington metro area continued to grow and thrive off of stimulus spending.
There is nothing wrong with any city or state being prosperous; we should want every area of our country to thrive and succeed. The problem with Washington is that it is too dependent on government largess for its stability. Too many members of Congress, and other government officials, who spend too much time in Washington start to lose perspective. They make the mistake of assuming that the prosperity of D.C. is a proxy for the rest of the country.
The Washingtonian piece, directed to members of a Congress, states that “President Trump’s ideal budget would have him overseeing the biggest reduction in the size of the federal workforce in more than 70 years. And cutting $58 billion from non-defense discretionary spending will likely have debilitating impacts on the Washington area.” This is a tacit admission that Washington’s spending addiction is driven by bloated domestic spending programs that are driving the country deeper into debt. The primary function of the federal government is to defend the homeland and provide for our national defense. Spending on art projects and cell phones aren’t critical to the country’s commerce.
Director Mulvaney is right to propose large reductions in non-defense discretionary spending. While we hear liberals hand-wringing about the loss of government jobs, where is their concern for men and women across the country who have been unable to find good Manufacturing jobs, or other jobs in the private sector? Where are their tears for families who are fighting to keep food on the table because government regulations and programs have put their businesses or their employer’s businesses out-of-business? Our national economy can not be propped-up by federal spending, and no longer can Washington’s.
The right pro-growth policies, which include eliminating Obamacare, repealing Dodd-Frank, cutting taxes across the board, and de-regulation will help all areas of America to thrive. Mick Mulvaney and the budget team at the White House are doing the right thing by thinking of the whole country. A Washington-centric domestic policy agenda over the last 8 years led D.C. to unparalleled levels of prosperity, while the rest of the country fought to keep its head above water.