WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress should take President Donald Trump's hint about working with Democrats on health care as motivation to follow through with their own promises, Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said on Sunday's "Meet The Press."
Mulvaney's comment comes on the heels of a Saturday morning tweet from Trump, stating: "I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill. ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!"
When asked what Republican lawmakers should take from that tease, Mulvaney responded, "Keep your promises."
"The president wants to get something done," he said. "He sees and understands what Obamacare is doing to folks back home, and he really doesn't like it very much. So he's looking for folks who will work with him to help change that. We had hoped it would be the Republicans in the Senate. They failed twice to do that. And can you blame the president then to sort of step back and say, 'Okay, if my own party can't deliver what I need, can I work with the other side?' That's not an unreasonable position."
While numerous other administration officials have departed in the last few months, Mulvaney has been a steady and continuous presence in the White House, and he spoke at length on Sunday about how the orchestration and organization of the West Wing has improved since John Kelly took over as chief of staff from Reince Priebus.
Though Mulvaney claims "there was never that much drama in the first place," he added, "what I can tell you has changed is the flow of information to the president, the flow of information from different people, from different sources. It is a much more orderly and aligned West Wing than it was previously."
Before Kelly arrived, Mulvaney said Trump was receiving information that "just wasn't ready for the president."
"Folks would wander in," Mulvaney recalled. "You've heard there were several stories — and those stories were actually true — about folks would just come in and there was an open-door policy and they could wander in and talk to the president about anything. That's probably not the most effective way to get information about very, very complex issues in front of the president of the United States."
Mulvaney also said that he and Kelly came up with a policy on private flights for cabinet secretaries, and that the use of government planes to make easy trips to places like New York will not happen again.
NBC News reported this week from multiple senior administration officials that clashes between the White House and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put Tillerson on the verge of resignation this summer.
Tillerson later denied he was considering stepping down, and Mulvaney maintains that Trump still has confidence in the secretary of state. He said he spent a good deal of time with both Tillerson and the president this week, and the subject never came up in conversation.
One of Mulvaney's biggest challenges for the rest of the year will be working with Congress on passing legislation on tax reform, a long-time Republican goal and one that the Trump administration is hoping to make one of their signature accomplishments.
A former congressman from South Carolina, Mulvaney spent his years on Capitol Hill as a staunch deficit hawk who cared deeply about the nation's national debt.
But on Sunday, he admitted that solving those issues won't be quite as easy as he once hoped.
"I've come to the realization that Washington is not going to solve the debt problem, the deficit problem, through spending," he said. "I had come to Washington in 2011 and had hoped that would be the case, that we had a spending problem and not a revenue problem." He blamed a lack of political will on Capitol Hill, saying, "I just do't think there's much appetite to cut our way to balance."
The budget chief also conceded that the tax proposal backed by the White House and Republicans in Congress will likely create an increase in the deficit that they hope will be overcome with economic growth.
"We are willing to accept short-term increases in deficits in order to get the type of tax reform that we need to get back to that healthy American economy," he said. "Remember, if you're 30 years old, you've never had a job as an adult in this country with a healthy American economy and we're trying to get back to that."