Acosta, Alexander, Al-Jazeera Fret to White House That People ‘Will Suffer’ Under Trump Budget

Before White House press secretary Sean Spicer threw down with reporters over President Trump’s wiretap claims on Thursday, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney faced left-leaning questions on the President’s budget that included fears people will “suffer” as a result of the conservative proposals.

Mulvaney received one such question almost right away via Al-Jazeera reporter James Bay fretting about the future of Middle Eastern migrants and the United Nations (U.N.) if the Trump administration succeeds in cutting U.N. funds. 

Speaking as if the U.N. is the be all, end all source of protecting and serving humanity, Bay fretted that people “will suffer” because of the administration’s decision:

The United Nations says the world’s facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II. 20 million people in just four countries facing starvation or famine and yet you're cutting funding to the U.N. — funding to the foreign aid budget. Are you worried that some of the most vulnerable people on Earth will suffer as a result?

Mulvaney didn’t take the bait and instead threw it back at Bay, telling him that the administration is “absolutely reducing to the U.N. and to the various foreign aid programs, including those run by the UN and other agencies” and “should come as a surprise to no one who watched the campaign.” 

In an attempt to ensure he found himself in soundbites on MSNBC, NBC Nightly News, and Today, NBC correspondent Peter Alexander shot off a question disguised as a Democratic talk point that the budget would harm African-Americans:

You talk about this budget, basically keeping the promises that the president made during the course of the campaign. The Housing and Urban Development — from Housing and urban development, this budget blueprint calls for a 13 percent reduction, $6 billion. During the course of the campaign, President Trump said specifically to urban black voters, he says, what do you have to lose? It turns out what they have to lose is $6 billion that goes to many programs that benefit those communities. What do you say to those Americans who feel that promise wasn’t kept?

Mulvaney came to play as well, blasting Alexander with a response that began this way: “Nobody’s going to get kicked out of their houses. What we did when looked at the HUD budget, was try to figure out a way how to spend money better.”

Alexander returned  with the first of three follow-ups that he clearly prepared for with the first fretting about the future of Meals on Wheels:

They support a variety of different programs, including, in part, Meals on Wheels. That affects a lot of Americans. In Austin, Texas today, one organization there that delivers meals to thousands of elderly says those citizens will no longer be able to be provided those meals. So, what do you say to Americans who are, ultimately, losing out, not on housing but on other things that are taken out of the budget? 

The former GOP congressman told him that Meals on Wheels isn’t a government program, but Alexander switched gears, touting an after-school program in Pennsylvania “which so happens to be the state that helped propel President Trump to the White House.” 

“I'm curious what you say to those Americans in a community where they tell me today that 800 individuals will no longer — children who need it most, will no longer be provided in those most needy communities, the educational care they need,” Alexander hyped

This sort of doomsday scenario of children starving and scores without homes served as a perfect follow-up to how the media portrayed the mid-1990s budgets offered by congressional Republicans.

Of course, CNN’s Jim Acosta had to be a part of the action as well, telling Mulvaney:

You were talking about the steel worker in Ohio and the coal miner in Pennsylvania and so on. But those workers may have an elderly mother who depends on the Meals on Wheels program, who may have kids in head start and yesterday or the day before you, described this as a hard power budget but is it also a hard-hearted budget? 

Acosta obviously didn’t understand Mulvaney’s response that it’s “compassionate” to put more money back in the pockets of working Americans because Acosta argued in a fallacy that this means the White House won’t be generous when it comes to “programs that help the elderly and kids.”

The OMB director responded with this brief education for the Trump sparring partner:

You're only focusing on half the equation, right. You're focusing on recipients of the money. We’re trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place. And I think it's fairly compassionate to go to them and say, look, we're not going to ask you for your hard-earned money anymore. Single mom of two in Detroit, okay? Give us your money. We're not going to do that anymore...unless we can guarantee that money will be used in a proper function and that's about as compassionate as you can get. 

Earlier in the briefing, reporter Melanie Arter of our sister site CNS News asked about the plans to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)

The President has called for eliminating funding for the corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National endowment for the arts, but yet the Republican Congress sends the President a Appropriations bills that funds CPB and NEA. Will he veto those bills and tell the Republican leadership to send bills that defund those things? 

Mulvaney responded that there’s “completely defensible reasons” for defending the CPB because it’s become unreasonable to inform a “steal worker in Ohio” or a “mother of two in Detroit” that “I want to take money from you and I want to give it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

“Can I really go to those folks, look them in the eye, and say, look. I want to take money from you and I want to give it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That is a really hard sell — in fact, something we think we can’t defend anymore,” he added. 

Here’s the relevant portions of the transcript from the White House press briefing on March 16:

White House press briefing
March 16, 2017
3:23 p.m. Eastern

JAMES BAYS (AL-JAZEERA): The United Nations says the world’s facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II. 20 million people in just four countries facing starvation or famine and yet you're cutting funding to the U.N. — funding to the foreign aid budget. Are you worried that some of the most vulnerable people on Earth will suffer as a result?

OMB DIRECTOR NICK MULVANEY: We are absolutely reducing to the U.N. and to the various foreign aid programs, including those run by the UN and other agencies. That should come as a surprise to no one who watched the campaign. The President said, specifically, hundreds of times, you covered it.  I'm going spend less money on people overseas and more money on people back home and that’s exactly what we're doing with this budget.  

(....)

MELANIE ARTER (CNS News): The President has called for eliminating funding for the corporation for Public Nroadcasting and the National endowment for the arts, but yet the Republican Congress sends the President a Appropriations bills that funds CPB and NEA. Will he veto those bills and tell the Republican leadership to send bills that defund those things? 

MULVANEY: I think the message the President sent right now is that we want to defund those and this completely defensible reasons for doing that. It's a simple message, by the way. I put myself in the shoes of that — that steal worker in Ohio, the coal miner — the coal mining family in west Virginia the mother of two in Detroit and I’m saying okay. I have to go ask these folks for money and I have to tell them where I have to spend it. Can I really go to those folks, look them in the eye, and say, look. I want to take money from you and I want to give it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That is a really hard sell — in fact, something we think we can’t defend anymore. As to specific vetoes, you and I both know it doesn't come over one by one, line-item-by-line-item, doesn’t come over. They come over in large appropriations bills and we'll work with Congress to go through the appropriations process and we will make determines on whether or not to sign appropriations bills or veto them at the appropriate time. 

(....)

PETER ALEXANDER: You talk about this budget, basically keeping the promises that the president made during the course of the campaign. The Housing and Urban Development — from Housing and urban development, this budget blueprint calls for a 13 percent reduction, $6 billion. During the course of the campaign, President Trump said specifically to urban black voters, he says, what do you have to lose? It turns out what they have to lose is $6 billion that goes to many programs that benefit those communities. What do you say to those Americans who feel that promise wasn’t kept?

MULVANEY: Nobody's going to get kicked out of their houses. What we did when looked at the HUD budget, was try to figure out a way how to spend money better.

(....)

ALEXANDER: You know well, Housing and Urban Development and the community development block grants aren't exclusively about housing. They support a variety of different programs, including, in part, Meals on Wheels. That affects a lot of Americans. In Austin, Texas today, one organization there that delivers meals to thousands of elderly says those citizens will no longer be able to be provided those meals. So, what do you say to Americans who are, ultimately, losing out, not on housing but on other things that are taken out of the budget? 

(....)

ALEXANDER: So, you’re talking about programs that do work or don't work. There's a program that’s called The Shine in Pennsylvania, rural counties of Pennsylvania that provides after-school educational programs for individuals in those areas, which so happens to be the state that helped propel President Trump to the white house. I'm curious what you say to those Americans in a community where they tell me today that 800 individuals will no longer — children who need it most, will no longer be provided in those most needy communities, the educational care they need? 

MULVANEY: I’m not familiar. You're at an advantage over me because I have all memorize 4,000 line items. So, let's talk about after-school programs generally. 

(....)

ALEXANDER: To be clear, we’re saying no after-school program — to be clear, we’re saying administration is saying that no after-school programs out there are doing their job in helping educate these children?

MULVANEY: No. Again, and now you're asking me a question I don't know the answer to. I don't believe we cut all funding for those type of things. 

JIM ACOSTA: Mr. Mulvaney, just to follow up on that. You were talking about the steel worker in Ohio and the coal miner in Pennsylvania and so on. But those workers may have an elderly mother who depends on the Meals on Wheels program, who may have kids in head start and yesterday or the day before you, described this as a hard power budget but is it also a hard-hearted budget? 

MULVANEY: No, I don't think so. In fact, I think it's probably one of the most compassionate things we can do to actually help —

ACOSTA: Not programs that help the elderly and kids?

MULVANEY: You're only focusing on half the equation, right. You're focusing on recipients of the money. We’re trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place. And I think it's fairly compassionate to go to them and say, look, we're not going to ask you for your hard-earned money anymore. Single mom of two in Detroit, okay? Give us your money. We're not going to do that anymore unless we can guaran —

ACOSTA: What about that single mom who has two kids in Detroit that has their kids in Head Start?

MULVANEY: Please let me finish. Please let me finish. Unless we can guarantee that money will be used in a proper function and that's about as compassionate as you can get. 

NB Daily Congress Budget Housing Personal Finance Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats NBC Al Jazeera CNN Video Government & Press Jim Acosta Office of Management and Budget White House Press Briefing Peter Alexander Mick Mulvaney
Curtis Houck's picture


Sponsored Links