with Paulina Firozi


White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has a deficit double-speak problem.

Mulvaney's new posture — that deficits will promote economic growth — stands in stark contrast to the conviction he expressed for years as a tea party-aligned congressman. Then, he railed against the federal government’s failure to square its spending with its collections, framing the gap as a moral scourge. 

The chasm between the two Mulvaneys, past and present, points to the Republican Party’s drift from a principle it declared foundational during the Obama years but has tossed overboard as it chases a tax code overhaul. 

But it is particularly striking to hear it from Trump’s budget guru, considering that the forme lawmaker built his public profile on a single-track fixation with a view he now disowns. The shift was on full display last weekend when Mulvaney appeared on "Fox News Sunday." 

“I've been very candid about this,” Mulvaney told host Chris Wallace. “We need to have new deficits because of that. We need to have the growth, Chris. If we simply look at this as being deficit-neutral, you're never going to get the type of tax reform and tax reductions that you need to get to sustain 3 percent economic growth. We really do believe that the tax code is what's holding back the American economy.”

Watch the striking interview here: 

After CNBC journalist John Harwood highlighted the exchange Tuesday, the Washington press corps piled on: 

From Politico's Jake Sherman: 

Politico's Michael Grunwald: 

Financial Times's Robin Wigglesworth: 

The Atlantic's David Graham: 

There’s plenty more where that came from in the public record. Mulvaney, a lawyer and real estate developer before jumping into state politics in 2006, won his seat in Congress in 2010 by ousting then-House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.). In the campaign, Mulvaney lashed the 14- term incumbent as a reckless enabler of the Obama administration's stimulus spending. (When they debated, Spratt defended his approach with logic that Mulvaney is cribbing from now, arguing that short-term deficits would stoke longer-term growth. “You can only balance the budget if you're moving in [that] direction,” he said.) 

Mulvaney continued to hammer the theme in Congress, where he quickly distinguished himself as a pacesetter among the new class of Republican fiscal hawks. “Anybody who is up to speed on budget issues should be scared to death by what’s happening with the debt and the deficit in this country. If you’re not losing sleep over it, then you’re simply not paying attention,” he said at a Capitol Hill news conference in January 2011, when the national debt registered at $14 trillion. It topped $20 trillion last month. 

Later that year, Mulvaney helped lead opposition to raising the debt limit without huge spending cuts and passage of a Constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget. He kept up the drumbeat afterwards, arguing last year that it "would force Washington to do the same thing that your family, your church, your business, your school, and even your state and local governments have to do: prioritize spending. Your family has to make tough decisions over what to buy ― and what not to buy; Washington should be forced to do the same thing.”

After Republicans assumed control of the Senate in 2015, unifying their control on the Hill, Mulvaney lamented in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the GOP had lost the sense of urgency on fiscal issues that first swept the party back to power in 2010. "Four years on, debt and deficits are passé, and the deficit is only a third of what it was just five years ago. Never mind that this year’s deficit will be the sixth-largest in history—exceeded only by the previous five—or that the national debt has ballooned by $3 trillion in that time," he wrote. "There is no honest way to justify not paying for spending, no matter how often my fellow Republicans try."

Early in the last presidential campaign, Mulvaney threw his support behind Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), pointing to his attention to fiscal concerns. “If Rand can make the argument that the issue of the debt and the deficit is a moral issue, he might play very well here,” Mulvaney said of the candidate's chances in his home state. 

When Trump named Mulvaney as his budget director earlier this year, White House watchers expected the South Carolinian’s history of deficit hawkishness would create potentially irreconcilable friction with his new boss. And over the summer, Mulvaney was forced to do an about-face, backing off calls to attach spending reforms to a debt-ceiling increase, since the administration supported a drama-free approach to extending its borrowing authority. 

Mulvaney's contortion on deficit-financed tax cuts involves a lower degree of difficulty. While his old fellow travelers in the House Freedom Caucus objected to the debt ceiling deal, they, too, have already fallen in line with the party's tax strategy, deficits notwithstanding. 

-- LAS VEGAS SHOOTING UPDATE: Investigators are still trying to determine a motive behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history. But on Tuesday, new details emerged about the meticulous plan that 64-year-old Stephen Paddock created before killing at least 59 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas.

Paddock fired for 9 to 11 minutes from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. He used video cameras around the room to keep an eye out for police. Authorities with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Tuesday that 12 of the guns recovered from his room had “bump fire” stocks, which enable semi-automatic weapons to fire almost as fast as fully automatic weapons. Prior to the shooting, Paddock wired $100,000 to someone in the Philippines. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said the shooting was “preplanned, extensively, and I’m pretty sure that he evaluated everything that he did in his actions, which is troublesome.”

The Post’s Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barett and Mark Berman note that while some public officials have suggested that Paddock was likely troubled, there were no immediate indications that he suffered from a mental illness or that he was not aware of his actions. The shooter’s girlfriend Marilou Danley arrived in the United States from the Philippines late Tuesday and was met at the airport by FBI agents. Investigators consider her a “person of interest” and hope, at the very least, she can shed light on Paddock's life.

As of Tuesday afternoon, authorities were able to identify all but three of the victims of the shooting. And here’s an updated look at what we know about the lives lost in Las Vegas.


Fed search is over. Trump advisers have delivered their list of finalists to the president, Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs  and Saleha Mohsin report: "Two of the people said Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen remains under consideration -- even though few, if any, of Trump’s inner circle are advocating for her reappointment. Trump could bring in a wild-card candidate, but several of the people said that’s unlikely. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn recused himself from helping to manage the selection process after Trump said publicly in the summer that he might appoint him to the position, several people said. All of the people requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

"Only a small handful of the president’s closest advisers have seen the final list of names, several of the people said. Two senior administration officials who have been involved in the discussions say that in addition to Yellen, Trump is considering Cohn, former Fed board governor Kevin Warsh and current governor Jerome Powell.

"There’s no frontrunner at the moment, several people said. Two people said the president has no plans to interview economist Glenn Hubbard and U.S. Bancorp Chairman Richard Davis, both of whom have been floated as possible candidates. A fifth person, Stanford economist John Taylor, a favorite of fiscal conservatives, is also believed to be under consideration, two of the people said. It’s unknown whether Taylor has been interviewed or is scheduled for a meeting."

Trump vows to "wipe out" Puerto Rico's debt. At the end of an, uh, interesting visit to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, the president appeared to tell Geraldo Rivera of Fox News that the island's $73 billion debt load can be waved away: "They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we're going to have to wipe that out. You're going to say goodbye to that, I don't know if it's Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that." 

Investors aren't sure what to make of it.  The New York Times's Mary Williams Walsh: "Reached late on Tuesday, investors who hold Puerto Rico’s debt and their advisers said they were taken aback and unwilling to comment. One said it was not clear how seriously they should take the remarks, citing promises like Mr. Trump’s so-far-unsuccessful pledge to end the Affordable Care Act, the health care plan passed under President Barack Obama. Most of Puerto Rico’s debt is in the form of municipal bonds, a type of debt governed primarily by state laws — or territorial laws, in Puerto Rico’s case — not by the federal government. Branches of the federal government, like the Internal Revenue Service, can step in under certain circumstances, but not simply to 'wipe out' the debt."


Wait just a minute: Republicans reconsider repeal of the state and local deduction. The New York Times's Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley: "Republican leaders are backing away from a proposal to fully repeal an expensive tax break used by more than 40 million tax filers to deduct state and local taxes amid pushback from fellow lawmakers whose residents rely on the popular provision. The state and local tax deduction is estimated to cost $1.3 trillion over the next decade and its repeal is central to paying for a sweeping tax rewrite unveiled last week by Republican lawmakers and administration officials. But elimination of the provision has emerged as a flash point in the nascent debate over the plan, with Republicans in high-tax states worried about backlash from residents who could see their tax bills rise.

The White House and Republican lawmakers are considering alternatives to an outright repeal, including allowing taxpayers to choose between deducting their mortgage interest or state and local taxes, a limit on the deduction or a special tax break for middle-class families that live in areas with high property taxes.

  • Not so fast: Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a Trump ally, said GOP “there’s not going to be full repeal” of the the so-called SALT deduction.

Bottom line: The fact that Republicans are already carving into one of their most valuable (and only) new revenue sources to offset a tax rewrite --  less than a week after debuting their latest framework -- bodes poorly, shall we say, for hopes of a big, comprehensive deal. 

Some conservatives willing to preserve rates on the rich. Politico's Rachael Bade and Aaron Lorenzo: "Multiple House Freedom Caucus members said they’d support maintaining the 39.6 percent tax rate on upper-income earners instead of reducing it to 35 percent under the current GOP plan. [Trump], concerned about Democratic accusations that his tax proposal would be seen as a boon to the wealthy, urged Hill Republicans to consider keeping the current top rate as is to pre-empt those attacks."


All 3 billion Yahoo accounts got hacked in 2013. That's three times as many as the company originally reported. The Post's Brian Fung: "The revised number vastly expands the scope of the historic hack, which had previously broken records as the world's largest data breach. The updated figure comes as the public is still reeling from back-to-back reports of data breaches at Equifax and the fast-food chain Sonic. News of the 2013 Yahoo breach broke last summer as it was being acquired by Verizon. The disclosure, coming just weeks after Yahoo admitted to a 2014 data breach affecting half a billion accounts, raised major questions about whether Verizon should go through with the deal. The uncertainty delayed closing by several months. But now, Yahoo is pointing to 'new intelligence' that persuaded it that the scope of the 2013 breach was far more significant than previously thought."

Uber approves reforms. The Wall Street Journal's Greg Bensinger: "Uber Technologies Inc.’s board unanimously approved a series of corporate changes along with a multibillion-dollar investment from SoftBank Group Inc. that are designed to strengthen the ride-hailing company’s governance while at the same time curtail former Chief Executive Travis Kalanick’s influence. Among the approved proposals Tuesday, Uber’s 11-person board agreed to revoke certain investors of their supervoting rights, which granted them multiple votes per share, a person familiar with the matter said. The provision ​effectively limits Mr. Kalanick’s power by creating equal voting power among shareholders."

The U.S. lost out on $600 million by selling bitcoins too early. CNBC's Evelyn Chang: "The U.S. Department of Justice could have made at least ten times more than the $48 million it took in from the bitcoin holdings of dark web marketplace founder Ross William Ulbricht. The U.S. government seized 144,336 bitcoins gained from Silk Road's illegal activities that were found on Ulbricht's laptop, Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced Friday... 

If the government had held onto the digital coins, their total worth would be more than $600 million at Tuesday's price of around $4,300, according to CoinDesk. The U.S. Marshals don't look for investment opportunities and there was no reason for them to hold onto the bitcoins, Justice Department spokeswoman Dawn Dearden told CNBC."

Speaking of... Here's Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein: 


Wells Fargo, Equifax brass had a rough day on the Hill.  And the hearings could spell bad news for the wider industry. 

Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith got a bipartisan grillingThe Wall Street Journal reports Smith "repeatedly told legislators Tuesday that he and other executives weren’t aware of the significance of the company’s data breach until weeks after it was detected in late July. Those assertions failed to mollify members of Congress who slammed Mr. Smith and Equifax for allowing the hack to happen, failing to immediately realize its significance and the handling of the problem after disclosing it publicly. Lawmakers also raised questions about the current structure of credit-reporting companies, whether they need more regulation and the amount of consumer information that they gather."

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan faced tough questioning about the bank's use of forced arbitration, as Senate Republicans try to rally support to quash a CFPB rule ending the practice. Reuters reports: "Wells Fargo has disclosed that its employees potentially created as many as 3.5 million accounts without authorization. Sloan, when pressed by Senate Banking Committee lawmakers, said the San Francisco-based bank would not prevent customers from suing. 'We haven’t done that. We’re not doing that,' Sloan said. But lawyers for Wells Fargo have asked a federal court in Utah to compel arbitration of a lawsuit over the opening of the unauthorized accounts, arguing that customers who were affected had agreed to arbitration."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for Sloan's ouster. "At best you were incompetent, at worst you were complicit," she said during Sloan's appearance before the Senate Banking Committee. "Either way, you should be fired."

Watch Warren's remarks here: 

White House will seek $30 billion in disaster funding. The Post's Damian Paletta, Mike DeBonis and Ed O'Keefe: "The funding request includes $12.77 billion in disaster recovery funds, $577 million to address wildfires, and $15 billion to fund the flood insurance program. It is not expected to seek budget cuts to offset the new spending. In early September, Congress authorized $7.9 billion in disaster relief funding to deal with damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but the White House said it would eventually need to come back and seek more assistance."

-- That news comes after Trump's memorable day in Puerto Rico, where he said that the island should be "proud" it hadn't suffered a higher death toll than occurred in “a real catastrophe” like 2005's Hurricane Katrina. (Jenna Johnson and Ashley Parker). The president also distributed rolls of paper towels; see below:



Mueller has a guy working to head off presidential pardons. Bloomberg's Greg Farrell: "He’s Michael Dreeben, a bookish career government lawyer with more than 100 Supreme Court appearances under his belt. Acting as Mueller’s top legal counsel, Dreeben has been researching past pardons and determining what, if any, limits exist, according to a person familiar with the matter. Dreeben’s broader brief is to make sure the special counsel’s prosecutorial moves are legally airtight. That could include anything from strategizing on novel interpretations of criminal law to making sure the recent search warrant on ex-campaign adviser Paul Manafort’s home would stand up to an appeal."

Russia stoked post-Charlottesville division on Facebook. The Wall Street Journal's Georgia Wells: "Some accounts that Facebook has said appear to be tied to Russian entities and bought ads around the U.S. election continued to post divisive messages as recently as this past August, according to saved versions of the now-deleted pages. 'Secured Borders,' a Facebook page that the social-media giant told congressional investigators bought ads during the presidential campaign last year, posted messages after the election that called for killing Muslims and that labeled illegal immigrants as 'rapists, murderers, child molesters,' according to cached versions of the page. A person with knowledge of the Facebook page confirmed its authenticity as well as that of three others." The pages expressed extreme views on both sides of the U.S. political and social spectrum, espousing radical ideas that demonized opposing viewpoints." 

Jared and Ivanka rerouted their private email accounts to Trump Organization computers. USA Today's Brad Heath: "The move, made just days after Kushner’s use of a personal email account first became public, came shortly after special counsel Robert Mueller asked the White House to turn over records related to his investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates. It also more closely intertwines President Trump’s administration with his constellation of private businesses."



  • The Washington Post’s James Hohmann will have a one-on-one discussion with White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney.

  • The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law holds a hearing “continuing to monitor data-broker cybersecurity.”

  • Former Equifax CEO Richard F. Smith will testify before the Senate Banking Committee.

  • The Brookings Institution will hold an event.

  • The House Small Business Committee holds a hearing on “Modernizing the Code for the Nation’s Job Creators.” 

  • The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on examining the SEC’s agenda, operations and budget.

  • The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget will hold an event on paying for tax reform.

  • The House Ways and Means Committee holds a hearing on the IRS’s information technology modernization efforts.

Coming Up

  • Former Equifax CEO Richard F. Smith will testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday.

  • The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on the nominations of Jeffrey Gerrish, of Maryland, to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative for Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Industrial Competitiveness, Gregory Doud to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the United States Trade Representative and Jason Kearns to be a Member of the United States International Trade Commission on Thursday.

  • The Peterson Institute hosts its semiannual Global Economic Prospects session on Thursday.

  • The Washington International Trade Association holds an event on dispute settlement on Thursday.

  • The Heritage Foundation will hold an event on the direction of FINRA on Friday.


President Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico, in two minutes:

Was the Las Vegas shooting the worst in U.S. history? It depends:

Fact Check: Would a gun silencer have changed the police's ability to find the Vegas gunman?:

Food truck cooks free meals for hospital staff in Las Vegas:

Watch Stephen Colbert on President Trump's visit to Puerto Rico: 

Jimmy Kimmel says it's not too soon to talk about gun violence: