Friday, May 26, 2017

The Best Hire in the Administration

I've been quite busy at work the past few days, which does make a well thought-out essay a bit hard to get done when you're trying to write proposals for a living.  That's an excuse, my friends, for the brevity of this one as well.

While I'm furiously writing proposal-speak all day, the TV is in the background with news, and I usually just have it in my head and through it, without really paying attention.  That said, I have taken to picking up my head and focusing on the TV -- when one specific member of the Administration is being interviewed.

That person is Mick Mulvaney, who is the director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Trump Administration.  And I'm here to tell you that he may turn out to be the best hire that President Trump has made, and there are some really good ones.

Way back when, I wrote about the attributes for a presidential candidate that would guide me in voting in the primary in a fairly loaded field as was there in 2016.  One of those attributes was communication, and by that I referred to the ability to stand up in front of the American people and make the case for what it is you were doing, your vision.  You needed to be able to explain what you were thinking.

That applies, in some degree, to Cabinet members and agency heads as well.  We don't, for example, need for Rex Tillerson to make a lot of speeches about our diplomatic agenda and answer the press all that much, and I don't expect that the Secretary of Labor needs to do that either.

But over at OMB, well, that's a horse of a different color.  You see, we are in an emergency -- $20 trillion in debt as a nation, and at the same time we are providing the services that our Federal government is obligated to under the Constitution (and a whole lot we aren't, hence the debt), we have to raise funds through taxes and spend them, hopefully the same amount.

The problem is that we have gotten so used to deficit spending, that we can't raise the money to pay for things that the government has gotten used to doing and, accordingly, we have to spend a lot less and/or get more money in.  Well, the former for sure.

And when you spend less, someone's ox gets gored, because the government will be buying less, or giving out less, or both, and someone will not like that.

So that message, the need to get closer to balancing the budget and paying down that debt, is a vital one.  You need someone with the ability to stand up in front of a rabid press that hates your boss, and explain the priorities of the Administration, while at the same time retaining the overall vision and reiterating it.

That vision in this administration is that there is an obligation to the taxpayers whose assets are being confiscated, an obligation to be good stewards of their money and not waste it.  And when you have been spending upwards of a trillion more each year than you take in, and borrowing the rest from countries like China that our not exactly our friends, well, you need to be able to remind the people of that on a regular basis -- and how it actually hurts them.

So I want to send a shout-out, as the younger set says these days, to Director Mulvaney.  I find his press conferences stimulating and informational.  Mulvaney is so comfortable with the material, and so comfortable with his understanding of the context in the broader sense -- e.g., reminding us that the government doesn't "have" money, it has to take it from the taxpaying public -- that he is a pleasure to listen to.

Mulvaney can stand there for an hour an take questions, with a marvelous command and with the verbal ability to stay on point for a long time without an "um"  or an "er" to be heard.  He knows his stuff and he can speak about it casually and accurately.  Yesterday, I noticed in a couple appearances, he made it a point to take to task incorrect references to "budget cuts" that were actually "smaller increases", and he is going to have to keep doing that, because the press won't.

We need more Mick Mulvaneys in this, and all administrations.  We need to know the thoughts, we need to know the policy, we need to know the context.  And we need people who can explain it in terms we can all understand.

President Trump, please keep this man around.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
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