Overnight Finance: Mulvaney sparks confusion with budget remarks | Trump spars with lawmakers on tariffs | Treasury looks to kill 300 tax regs | Intel chief's warning on debt

Overnight Finance: Mulvaney sparks confusion with budget remarks | Trump spars with lawmakers on tariffs | Treasury looks to kill 300 tax regs | Intel chief's warning on debt
© Greg Nash

THE BIG DEAL: White House budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Mnuchin pulls out of Saudi summit | Consumer bureau to probe controversial blog posts on race | Harris proposes new middle-class tax credit Consumer bureau to probe top Trump official's past racial comments On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race MORE appeared to say he'd vote against President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE's fiscal 2019 budget while he was testifying before a Senate committee.

During a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Tuesday morning, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: House passes funding bill | Congress gets deal on opioids package | 80K people died in US from flu last winter Wilkie vows no 'inappropriate influence' at VA Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers MORE (D-Wash.) asked Mulvaney if he would have voted for the budget if he were still in Congress. She noted that he said Sunday that he wouldn't have voted for the deal to increase spending caps that Trump signed last week.

Mulvaney had said Sunday that he probably wouldn't have voted for the bipartisan deal had he still been in Congress. But the director seemed to go even further Tuesday, appearing to oppose the White House fiscal 2019 budget released Monday.

"If you were in Congress, would you have voted for this budget that you're presenting?" Murray asked.

"I can give the same answer I gave on Sunday, which is that as a member of Congress representing the 5th District of South Carolina, I probably would have found enough shortcomings in this to vote against it, as did many members of this committee," Mulvaney replied. "But I'm the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and my job is to try and fund the president's priorities, which is exactly what we did."

"So you would say this is a no, as a member of Congress?" Murray asked.

"Yeah, I think I've said that before," Mulvaney said. "I don't think that reflects on my opinion of it as a member of the administration."

Mulvaney, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, was a congressman from South Carolina before joining the administration. He routinely opposed spending deals struck under President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaLive coverage: Gillum clashes with DeSantis in Florida debate Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Republicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat MORE citing concerns about the federal debt.

Mulvaney's conservative former colleagues blasted the bipartisan budget deal passed last week to boost federal spending by $300 billion while funding the government through March 23.


Hold on... OMB spokeswoman Meghan Burris said later in a statement: "Director Mulvaney was referring to the recent caps deal when answering Senator Murray's question this morning. Naturally, he would vote for the President's FY19 budget that he released yesterday."

Murray didn't buy it, though, saying in a statement: "I was surprised to hear Director Mulvaney being so honest with me about the fact that he was asking us to support a budget he'd never vote for as a Congressman--and then I was disappointed that the White House refused to let this honesty stand and Director Mulvaney was forced to backtrack on his very clear statement to me."

So what?  Mulvaney is one of the few Trump administration officials to acknowledge his policy differences with the president, yet remains one of his trusted advisers. Trump routinely touts the work Mulvaney spearheaded to cut regulations, and has reportedly asked other staffers their opinions of him amid speculation over the future of his chief of staff, John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE.

There are two ways to look at this. By speaking out against policies Trump has signed into law, Mulvaney is sticking to his personal guns, risking ending up on the wrong side of a president who is always worried about loyalty.

But Mulvaney's openness about crafting policies he opposes but Trump supports also won him kudos from many Republican lawmakers. Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), who sits on the Budget Committee, said Mulvaney was just "being honest."

"He's no longer a congressman. He's an OMB director," Kennedy said. "He has a client. It's called the American people and the president of the United States."

Those reactions could strengthen Mulvaney's standing in the White House.


To get caught up, here are five takeaways from Trump's fiscal 2019 budget proposal, from The Hill's Naomi Jagoda:

  • The budget doesn't balance (Mulvaney: "It would have taken funny numbers to do it.").
  • Trump pivots to infrastructure, but requests limited federal funds (Dems aren't happy)
  • The budget includes border wall funding (A must-have for Trump, as one might expect)
  • Military spending gets a boost (GOP lawmakers are thrilled)
  • There's plenty of red meat for Republicans (Mulvaney breaks out the hatchet)


DEBT THREAT: Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHillicon Valley: Intel chief wants tech, government to work more closely | Facebook doesn't believe foreign state behind hack | New net neutrality lawsuit | Reddit creates 'war room' to fight misinformation Hillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case MORE warned lawmakers Tuesday that failing to curb the national debt could jeopardize national security.

Coats, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he's concerned that the U.S. government's "increasingly fractious political process, particularly with respect to federal spending, is threatening our ability to defend our nation, both in the short term and especially in the long term."

"I would urge all of us to recognize the need to address this challenge and take action as soon as possible before a fiscal crisis emerges that truly undermines our ability to ensure our national security," Coats said: http://bit.ly/2o4RRfR.

So what? The national debt is roughly $20 trillion and is expected to grow significantly over the next ten years. While Congress will spend more and take in less revenue, aging baby boomers will continue to leave the workforce and lean on the bleeding Social Security and Medicare programs lawmakers have been unable to touch.

The threats to critical entitlement programs are enough to threaten a fiscal calamity. But Coats is just one of a slew of former intelligence and defense officials to highlight the unique national security threats posed by the national debt.


"We don't have the skilled workforce that we need for the future."

Economists, demographers and political leaders are increasingly concerned that the next generation of workers won't be ready to fill millions of new jobs across the country.

The combination of a generational sea change in the workforce and a technological revolution in the economy is conspiring to create a skills gap that could leave jobs unfilled, experts said.

And that could stifle growth while exacerbating an already wide gap in the new economy between thriving and struggling communities.

"It's a national problem," said David Long, the Republican leader of the Indiana state Senate. "We have to make sure we have the bodies to fill these jobs." The Hill's Reid Wilson explains: http://bit.ly/2o55Imd.


Welcome back to Overnight Finance. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

See something I missed? Let me know at slane@thehill.com or tweet me @SylvanLane. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.


On tap tomorrow 



Trump spars with GOP lawmakers on steel and aluminum tariffs, warning that the domestic industries are being "decimated" by unfair trade.

"They are dumping and destroying our industries," Trump said. "We can't let that happen."

Trump pushed back against several lawmakers who warned him the tariffs could cost U.S. jobs and hurt the broader economy.  

"You may have a higher price, but you have jobs," Trump said during the nearly hour-long meeting, which included lawmakers from both parties. The Hill's Vicki Needham explains.

Lawmakers openly questioned Trump's call for higher tariffs. What lawmakers said: 

  • "Wisconsin operates a trade surplus with both Canada and Mexico. Trade works very well for Wisconsin." -- Sen. Ron. Johnson (R-Wis.), after Trump said Canada was treating Wisconsin farmers "very unfairly."


Mulvaney takes more heat: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has dropped a lawsuit against a lender that was allegedly charging interest rates up to 950 percent, NPR reported.

Mulvaney's spokesperson told NPR that the decision to drop the suit wasn't made by him, but by "professional career staff."

However, several bureau staffers pushed back against that claim, saying that Mulvaney was involved in the decision to stop pursuing the lawsuit. The spokesperson later said Mulvaney had in fact been involved: http://bit.ly/2o0XonA.


Treasury proposes repealing nearly 300 tax regulationsas part of the Trump administration's efforts to reduce regulatory burdens.

"We continue our work to ensure that our tax regulatory system promotes economic growth," Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMnuchin: ‘Premature to comment on sanctions’ against Saudi Arabia Trump official defends planned visit to Saudi Arabia On The Money: Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia | Treasury releases guidance on 'opportunity zone' program | Maxine Waters gets company in new GOP line of attack MORE said in a statement. "These 298 regulations serve no useful purpose to taxpayers and we have proposed eliminating them."

Why: Trump signed an executive order last April asking Treasury to review tax regulations and Treasury's announcement stems from the order.

The department said that the rules it's proposing to repeal fit into three categories: Rules interpreting tax-code sections that have been repealed, rules interpreting tax-code sections that have been significantly changed and rules that no longer apply. Here's more from Naomi Jagoda: http://bit.ly/2o4qgv4.



  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Up 39 points (0.1 percent)
  • Nasdaq: Up 31 points (0.4 percent)
  • S&P 500: Up 6.9 points (0.3 percent)





Salon is offering to use readers' computers to mine cryptocurrency, as a way of giving readers an alternative to seeing ads. Here's to diverse revenue streams, I guess?

Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was extensively profiled in Elle. She dishes on her Instagram scandal, her flights across the country, life in Washington and her marriage to most the country's chief financial officer.

  • "[Linton] enjoys taking cute selfies with Mnuchin using the Snapchat filters that make people look like puppies and piglets." Overnight Finance would gladly publish these Snapchats.
  • When they met: "Linton didn't think much of Mnuchin--who's 18 years her senior--at first, but she did mention to him in their initial conversation that she was hosting a fundraiser for a dog welfare organization called Mutt Match LA. To her surprise, he showed up at the fundraiser, and the two struck up a casual friendship. Seven months later, they went on two consecutive dates."
  • "Mnuchin is an avid cyclist, and in a classic marital compromise, he and Linton trade off weekend trips to SoulCycle with journeys into the wilderness on real bikes."
  • "'He's ice and I'm fire. I like to try everything, taste everything. I love to explore, and he is much more habitual. He likes what he likes. We balance each other out nicely,'" said Linton.


Former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayDems go on offense against GOP lawsuit on pre-existing conditions Trump attacks Democrat in Ohio governor's race Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas MORE called on LeBron James to stick with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. Cordray, a Democrat running for Ohio governor tweeted, "We are making it our policy to keep our best talent here in Ohio, most especially our global and immortal talent like LeBron," in response to a question posed by CNN's Andrew Kaczynski.