The head of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, says American taxpayers can be asked to pay for beefed-up national defense, but cannot be asked to pay for domestic programs such as public broadcasting.

Mulvaney made the remarks Thursday during an MSNBC morning broadcast Thursday, saying the decision was made to cut domestic programs in order to fund the president’s priorities: national defense, homeland security, U.S. veteran care, and school choice for parents.

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“When you start looking at the places that will reduce spending, one of the questions that we asked was, can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs? The answer was no,” Mulvaney said. “We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will. But we can’t continue to ask them to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

Later in the day, Mulvaney defended the president’s budget at the White House news briefing.

“Meals on Wheels (a meal-delivery program for senior adults) sounds great,” Mulvaney said. But he added, “we’re not going to spend on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we’ve made to people.”

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He said the cuts could be considered “compassionate” because the government will no longer be asking people who do not benefit from particular domestic programs to pay for them.

“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 … unless we can guarantee to you that the money is actually going to be used in a proper function.’ And I think that is about as compassionate as you can get,” he said.

On free-lunch programs for schools, Mulvaney said there was no evidence that providing the lunches to students actually helped them improve their school performance.

“The way we justified (free lunches) was, ‘These programs are going to help these kids do better in school and get better jobs.’ And we can’t prove that that’s happening,” he said.


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