Mick Mulvaney didn't mince words when it comes to the president's budget and its effect on Washington, D.C.
Asked how the administration's anticipated budget cuts — coupled with a recent executive order calling for the wholesale reorganization of the executive branch — could impact the region down to its property values, the Office of Management and Budget director made clear that the White House was looking at the bigger picture.
"The President of the United States, he represents the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia and southern Maryland, but he also represents the rest of the country," he said at a March 15 press conference. "I can assure you that we didn’t write this budget with an eye towards what it would do to the value of your condo."
Condos aside, the twofold turbulence of projected budget cuts and possible workforce scale backs has had the capital region buzzing this week. The Washington Post said on March 12that the president’s order for federal agencies to reorganize alone could cause a 1.8 percent employment dip in the region, in addition to slicing home prices by 1.9 percent.
The possibility of paring down of the federal workforce has also set the stage for a battle on Capitol Hill, as federal employee unions have mobilized their members to lay siege to Congress in an effort to kill the budget plan.
"The federal government has two workforces: Civilian federal employees and contractors. Each year, the government spends more than twice as much on service contractors as it does on its own workforce," American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox said in a statement.
"It doesn’t take a Wharton MBA to figure out that getting a handle on what contractors are doing and what they are charging should be the first priority in any governmentwide review of operational efficiency."
But coupled with the reorganization order is a budget that is reported to have double-digit spending cuts across numerous agencies, like Housing and Urban Development, the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mulvaney said that the budget is built on the elimination of federal programs that were wasteful and inefficient, but the agency-level impact on the workforce remains to be seen, largely because agency leaders will be the ones tasked with figuring out the bottom line.
"There’s a great deal of discretion — more so than is typical — for the federal agency secretaries," he said.
So while agency leaders will soon know what kind of numbers they will be working with, how much of the federal workforce will be left to carry out the agency mission is still a big question mark.