The Washington Post finds that Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House of chief of staff, is “building an empire for the right wing.” I think the Post means that Mulvaney is acting aggressively to make sure the administration implements the deregulatory agenda President Trump says he favors.
The Post reports that Mulvaney is shrewdly “steering clear of the Trump-related pitfalls that tripped up his predecessors” — e.g., bugging the president about his tweeting and feuding with the president’s family. Thanks to this “Let Trump be Trump” approach, Mulvaney is able to exercise substantial control over domestic policy and to keep it moving in a conservative direction, says the Post.
This has made Democrats, and some Republicans, unhappy. Nor does the Post seem pleased. I wonder whether it published this story in the hope that Trump will become annoyed with his acting chief of staff for “building an empire” behind his back or maybe just for getting too much credit.
I doubt that Trump will. As long as Mulvaney doesn’t leak, doesn’t disrespect Trump, and doesn’t fight the president on something he really wants, he should be okay for a while.
I suppose that, eventually, Mulvaney will piss off Trump, or maybe just burn himself out. In the meantime, we can enjoy the following excerpts from the Post’s article:
You have a chief of staff with a professional commitment to ensuring that a real policy agenda gets enacted,” said Charmaine Yoest, who served in senior roles in the Trump White House and at Health and Human Services before moving to the Heritage Foundation. “You’ve got to dig in, chart a path forward and stay committed to it, and we welcome his serious approach to policymaking.
So do we.
What I am seeing is that Mulvaney cares about the domestic agencies much more than the prior chiefs of staff did,” said Tammy McCutchen, a former Labor Department official in the George W. Bush administration who is now a partner at the Littler Mendelson law firm. “They’re holding the agencies accountable to move forward on regulations.”
I saw the same thing in the way Mulvaney forced Alex Acosta to get the ball rolling on conservative initiatives at the Department of Labor. Holding agencies accountable in this way is exactly what the White House should be doing.
Where [Reince] Priebus and [John] Kelly were more deferential to Cabinet members, Mulvaney has told them they are being judged on how much they can deregulate, with the policy council monitoring them daily. He is pushing for faster rollbacks of rules enacted by former president Barack Obama before Trump’s first term ends. . . .
This is music to my ears.
I also liked this:
We’re just taking the president’s challenge seriously to look everywhere and come up with options for deregulation that spurs economic growth,” [Russell] Vought [who runs the Office of Management and Budget in Mulvaney’s absence] said in an interview. “You have an administration that’s in sync and everyone is talking to each other.”
Maybe the Trump administration isn’t such a chaotic mess, after all.
The Post tries to stir the pot with this statement:
The president has blessed Mulvaney’s operation, White House aides said, and Trump considers his chief of staff an emissary to movement conservatives who have been vital to his presidency. But some Trump advisers say the president has no idea what Mulvaney and his aides do all day.
Trump must have some idea, but he’s right to judge Mulvaney on results, not on how he and his aides spend their time.
It’s unusual for a White House chief of staff to take the lead role on policy matters, especially in as direct a way as Mulvaney does. But every Republican president needs someone to do what Mulvaney is doing. George W. Bush had Dick Cheney in that role, at least during the first term.
Early on, I don’t think Trump had that person, which is why, for example, Alex Acosta was able to resist administration policy at the DOL. Now he does.