As the legislative branch begins considering ways to use the power of the purse, President Donald Trump's newly appointed White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is weighing options on ways to cut $4 trillion U.S. budget.
The New York Times released what it called the "White House hit list" for federal programs, naming the offices Trump and Mulvaney would likely propose be shut down by Congress, according to an internal memo obtained by the paper.
On the chopping block could be the Export-Import Bank, the Legal Services Corporation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting including NPR, AmeriCorps, SeniorCorps, the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities.
Naturally, critics are already blasting the possible cuts Mulvaney will be making - his strict fiscal lens has made him a target for liberal scrutiny - but as the president's budget will not be published until March, these assumptions remain speculative.
On the side, Mulvaney has been praised for his eagerness to eliminate government waste. USA Today's Eliza Collins describes Mulvaney as "a crusader for federal budget cuts" and sites his past in the conservative Freedom Caucus as evidence of his willingness to fight for budget reductions. There, Mulvaney pushed for a conservative fiscal agenda, including taking the risk of a government shutdown in order to ensure critical cuts were made to budget plans.
Conservatives for their part are hoping that Mulvaney will now deliver strengthened fiscal control. The Heritage Foundation proposed key program cuts in 2014 which have prevailed despite economic losses, eliminating grant programs within the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Education could save an upwards of $5 billion and remove federal intervention on state issues.
Other areas Mulvaney could take a look at are working with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cut wasteful spending that seems to be ingrained in bureaucratic failure. From 1973 to 2012 alone, the National Center for Policy Analysis reports the Department of Energy spent $154.7 billion on renewable energy programs which have yet to produce commercially viable technologies.
While Mulvaney's agenda can still only be speculated, there is one area he has maintained consistent support; the defunding on the Ex-Im Bank. Mulvaney has consistently seen it as the symbol of crony capitalism that it is and advocated for its termination, now with the power of the budget he can finally enact this goal.
As Mulvaney moves into the Trump administration the budget will be his opportunity to show the president is committed to fighting for conservative fiscal policy. And with liberals already waiting eagerly, Trump's proposed budget cuts could be the front of the next political battleground.
Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.