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Trump wants SC Rep. Mick Mulvaney to be his budget director

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FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2016, file photo, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., center, leaves Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

As he prepared for the final stop on his postelection "thank you" tour, President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday announced his pick for White House budget director, a tough-on-spending conservative congressman who advocates balancing the federal books.

South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, elected in the 2010 tea party wave and a founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, is a "very high-energy leader with deep convictions for how to responsibly manage our nation's finances and save our country from drowning in red ink," Trump said in a statement.

Trump said that with Mulvaney on his team, his administration will make "smart choices" and "renew the American taxpayer's trust in how their money is spent."

The announcement came hours before Trump's rally at a football stadium in Mobile, Alabama, and he tweeted: "THANK YOU ALABAMA AND THE SOUTH. Biggest of all crowds expected, see you there!"

In Orlando, Florida, on Friday night, Trump told a crowd full of a military veterans that he would build up the forces but would use them sparingly as commander in chief.

After that event, Trump was expected to return to Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach estate. Aides said the president-elect probably would spend Christmas week there, taking meetings and relaxing with his family, and could remain at the coastal resort until New Year's.

His budget pick, the 49-year-old Mulvaney, is one of the more hard-charging members among House conservatives. Lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus helped push former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. from power and have caused heartburn for current Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

As director of the Office of Management and Budget, a post that requires Senate confirmation, Mulvaney would be responsible for crafting Trump's budget and overseeing the final issuance of major regulations.

Mulvaney has taken a hard line on budget matters, routinely voting against increasing the government's borrowing cap and pressing for major cuts to benefit programs as the path to balancing the budget.

Actually balancing the federal budget requires deeper spending cuts than the GOP-controlled Congress can probably deliver on, especially if Trump prevails on revenue-losing tax cuts and a big infrastructure package next year.

Mulvaney, in a statement released by Trump's transition team, pledged to help restore "ling "budgetary and fiscal sanity ... after eight years of an out-of-control, tax and spend financial agenda" under President Barack Obama.

"Each day, families across our nation make disciplined choices about how to spend their hard earned money, and the federal government should exercise the same discretion that hardworking Americans do every day," he said.

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