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Transition to Trump: Can Mick Mulvaney temper Trump’s lean to big government?

One of many areas people expect “action” from the new administration is on the federal budget where both the Democrats and Republicans are guilty of literally spending the country into oblivion over the past two decades. The spending bender started under George W. Bush and accelerated under Obama.

Perhaps for that reason, many conservatives are seeing Donald Trump’s pick to head the Office of Mick MulvaneyManagement and Budget as a possible ray of hope.

W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner writes, “If anyone can convince President-elect Trump to cut federal spending, Rep. Mick Mulvaney can, according to many fiscal conservatives.

“But conservatives are divided on the question of whether Trump wants to be convinced…

“[T]here are questions about how far Trump will let Mulvaney run. Trump didn't run for president as someone who was necessarily going to shrink government. He campaigned against cuts to many popular entitlement programs benefiting the middle class and suggested most budget savings could be achieved through better management — such as renegotiating deals with federal contractors — or by attacking waste, fraud and abuse.”

It’s all true; Trump didn’t base his campaign on limiting government the way Ronald Reagan did in 1980 (and before). There weren’t any catch phrases like “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’” in Trump’s vernacular.

In contrast, Trump talked often about using the power of the federal government to “help” people through maintaining entitlements in their current form, rebuilding America’s inner cities and cutting business taxes to encourage growth and job creation.

But I think people who focus too long on what Trump said versus what he didn’t say are losing sight of what he really represents. Along with the grandiose guarantees of reforming the federal government Trump also promised to change the way it operates – in effect, to demand the type of accountability that the marketplace places on business.

And Trump did talk about cutting spending, too, though it wasn’t always part of his stump speech. In this “interview” with comedian Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show, Trump said “Here’s what I’ll do (to help the economy). First, we have to cut government spending. It’s out of control, totally out of control. Then we’ve got to lower corporate taxes. It’s become impossible to do business in this country. We’ve got companies shipping thousands of jobs overseas and that’s got to end.”

As a movement conservative, Mick Mulvaney isn’t as likely to fold under pressure from the party establishment and Democrats to fund big government initiatives such as Medicare Part D and the disastrously bloated ‘No Child Left Behind’ law under George W. Bush.

Trump doesn’t buy votes. There’s a difference. And Karl Rove isn’t going to be whispering into Trump’s ear about securing a permanent Republican majority, either.

In fact, there’s already evidence that the federal leviathan is about to be tamed – early in the session, too.

Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner reports, “While both the House and Senate begin writing legislation to repeal the healthcare law, Republican senators will convene hearings and votes to confirm President-elect Donald Trump's nominees in time for his swearing-in on the 20th. Republicans point out that on Inauguration Day in 2009, the Senate confirmed seven Obama cabinet nominees.

“Lawmakers expect to begin debating a bill to repeal Obamacare as early as the first week in session, fulfilling a GOP pledge made six years ago when the Affordable Care Act became law over their objections.”

Yes indeed, it finally looks like Obamacare repeal is going to happen. If it were up to Republican congressional leaders alone, I’m guessing Obamacare would still have a fighting chance. But with Trump on the verge of becoming president and men like Mulvaney set to oversee his budget, the odds are good that Obamacare – or at least most of it – will be history by the end of January.

The future looks bright. It’s time to celebrate.

Preparation is taking place behind-the-scenes for Donald Trump’s nominees before they go before the Senate next month

With one week to go until the 115th Congress convenes next Tuesday, attention is noticeably shifting away from the media circus surrounding the deliberations (over administration personnel) at Trump transition headquarters to the upcoming confirmation process for Donald Trump’s cabinet (and otherwise) appointments.

From the sound of it, the Trump team is taking the concept very seriously, employing terms such as “war room” and “murder boards” to describe the strategies being implemented to help push his nominees through what promises to be a contentious few weeks.

Andrew Restuccia and Nancy Cook of Politico report, “Donald Trump’s transition team is taking zero chances with the president-elect’s Cabinet picks, assembling a ‘war room’ to promote their strengths and fend off criticism before next month’s confirmation hearings.

“The transition team has recruited dozens of Republican public relations veterans and policy experts to help sell the public and the Senate on Trump’s selections, according to sources close to the transition. Their task will be to convince Americans that the billionaires, generals, donors and CEOs chosen by the president-elect have the expertise to manage the federal government — even if they have no Washington experience.”

You have to love the terminology the Politico journalists used. “Billionaires, generals, donors and CEOs chosen by [Trump]…” If it were Hillary Clinton’s selections being considered instead the media would no doubt be calling them “humanitarians, distinguished individuals, philanthropists and military heroes.”

And not to imply that Washington experience isn’t at all important for top government officials but I think the concept has gotten more than its fair share of media emphasis since Trump was elected president. It seems clear from the results of both the primaries and last month’s presidential election that Americans want new blood manning the government’s machinery, not some retreads from Washington with lots of “experience.”

The Politico article lays out the process Trump’s nominees are being put through, including each one being assigned a team of “Sherpas” to guide them across the potentially tricky minefield of media bombardment and hostile Democrat senatorial offices.

Of particular interest are the “murder boards” tasked with peppering nominees with the types of questions they’ll face during their hearings.

And here we thought preparation for the candidate debates was intense. Squaring off against politicians with a media personality moderator or moderators in the middle is nothing compared to the intensity of hatred they’ll “experience” at the hands of motivated Democrats in the Senate committee rooms.

There’s also the paperwork load to consider. The federal government demands to know every last detail about the people who “serve” it, so plan on lots of minute aspects of every nominee’s life to be sifted from a stack of opposition research based on the disclosure forms.

Expect to hear a lot about what magazines and books the nominees read, movies they watch and school clubs they joined decades ago.

From a political standpoint the odds of each Trump appointment getting through would appear to be excellent. With 52 Republicans in the Senate and Mike Pence there to break ties (though I wonder how it will work prior to his inauguration on January 20), every person would seem to have a strong chance of locking down the 50 votes necessary for confirmation. In addition, as I’ve previously indicated, several Democrats from deep red states up for re-election in 2018 will likely be in a cooperative mood.

In other words, receiving the Senate’s official stamp of approval shouldn’t be that hard for most of Trump’s selections.

But one also wonders how much the personal reputations of these folks will suffer when the liberal Democrats pour over every last personal financial record to slander the person in front of them. What if the nominees owned stock in companies that have sued the federal government or if they have contributed to culturally conservative causes labeled as opposed to the current acceptable level of political correctness?

A lifetime’s worth of success or accomplishment isn’t likely to make much of a difference when some of these people have angry liberal constituencies to assuage.

And don’t expect help from the media, either. Take for example this story on Trump’s pre-inauguration popularity. Steven Shepard of Politico reports, “Trump will enter the White House as the least-popular incoming president in the modern era of public-opinion polling.

“The down-in-the-dumps figures raise hard questions about whether he’ll have the political capital needed to push through his more controversial nominees and his aggressive legislative goals of repealing Obamacare, passing a major infrastructure spending plan and reforming immigration and tax policies.”

Those “down-in-the-dumps” figures are 43 percent favorable versus 49 unfavorable for Trump. In today’s deeply fractured country, neither side could expect to enjoy much of a popular mandate for individuals. Again, what would the numbers have looked like if Hillary Clinton had won?

What Trump does appear to have to his advantage is a willingness to choose boldly and ignore the back-and-forth nature of public opinion polls. He’s kept his campaign promise to select successful people – “winners” – who know more about accomplishing things than they do about pleasing focus groups.

Trump also enjoys support from an increasingly enthusiastic conservative base. You know, the informed portion of the American people that understand government and are fed up after eight years of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Any way you look at it, half the public wants action and the other half would oppose Trump no matter what he does. Smart money is on the “action” side to prevail in the confirmation hearings.

Ben Carson isn’t white, so why do the liberals hate him so much?

As suggested by the survey above, Donald Trump will most likely take the oath of office on January 20 as the least popular man to ever enter the Oval Office. His opponents repeatedly cite the fact Trump lost the popular vote and can’t get his approval ratings into positive territory as reasons why he will be a weak and ineffective president.

Perhaps because of it, liberals are up in arms over the fact Trump is bringing in a collection of fellow outsiders to Washington, many of whom have not only never held elected office before, they’ve never even worked in government.

None is more “controversial” than Dr. Ben Carson, the African-American neurosurgeon who became nationally famous for speaking out against Obamacare in the presence of President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in February of 2013 (ironically, Carson was introduced by fellow Trump nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions at the event).

Trump chose Carson to head up the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the party that prides itself on promoting minorities doesn’t appear to be happy about it.

Jason Riley writes in the Wall Street Journal, “Dr. Carson grew up poor in Detroit and Boston, an experience that he chronicles vividly in his memoir, ‘Gifted Hands.’ His upbringing doesn’t make him a housing expert, but like the general who knows war and is therefore less likely to venture recklessly into a new one, Dr. Carson’s background does make him better able to empathize with the plight of the poor…

“There are few if any federal agencies in greater need of a makeover than HUD, and that makeover is unlikely to come from the type of ‘expert’ at the helm who would appease Dr. Carson’s critics. It’s HUD’s view of housing that is warped, not Dr. Carson’s. Mr. Trump has tapped a nonpolitician to clean up a mess created by political pros and bureaucrats who have an agenda that often differs from the needs of the poor. Let’s see if Dr. Carson is up to the job.”

On the surface the liberals’ questioning of Carson’s qualifications for HUD seems reasonable, but I can’t help but believe the real purpose for opposing him has nothing to do with how many reams of paper he’s pushed in a management capacity.

Simply put, liberals and Democrats can’t afford to have a prominent conservative black man like Carson in an extremely visible position where he might not only succeed, he could change the culture of dependence that they rely on for votes if he does so.

For a party that views everything through a racial prism, there’s nothing more dangerous to the Democrats’ electoral viability than removing the stereotype that conservatives and Republicans are a bunch of racists, sexists, homophones, misogynists, etc… you know, “depolorables.”

Since Ben Carson is a person of color he would be engaged in a form of self-hatred if he was prejudiced against his own race. Therefore, cries of “racism” don’t stick to Carson.

Jason Riley is right. Ben Carson may not be familiar with the inner workings of the federal bureaucracy, but he does understand the people he’s committed to serving as secretary of HUD, much more so than some academic or a donor to the Democrat party would in the same position.

Ben Carson is a dangerous man…but only where the Democrats are concerned.

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