Donald Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, made a stunning admission at a White House briefing, telling reporters that Republicans deliberately held coal miners' health benefits hostage during budget negotiations — a claim of which he seemed strangely proud.
Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans have shown a shocking and reprehensible callousness toward Americans, perfectly captured in a shocking statement Trump's budget director actually made in public.
At a White House briefing, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), spent half an hour trying to spin Trump's crushing defeat on the spending bill into a victory, and revealed that the administration held coal miners' health benefits hostage to try to force a "bipartisan" deal.
All In host Chris Hayes flagged the clip, and his reaction is dead perfect:
HAYES: You've also got, Steve, this amazing admission by Mulvaney today about miners' health. There was a lot of money for it, and it was a big question about whether it was going to be funded. Here he is basically saying, yes, of course, we were using the miners as bargaining chips. Take a listen.
MULVANEY: The president is asking me, since the day I got here, for a way to fix the miners' health issue problems that they have in Appalachia, and we were simply waiting for the opportunity to give it as part of a bipartisan discussion, so that we could get something in return.
HAYES: It strikes me as a kind of saying the quiet part loud kind of thing for Mulvaney to do, Steve.
What is perhaps most shameful is that it is not clear Republicans ever intended to extend benefits to miners. The administration was willing to deny benefits at least until they "could get something in return."
But if they could not, were they willing to allow miners to go without indefinitely? Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced a bill, the Miners Protection Act of 2017, which attracted 18 Democratic co-sponsors but only 7 Republicans. It would seem Republicans were far less motivated to make sure coal miners received the benefits they deserved.
Trump may have gotten elected by telling coal miners what they wanted to hear, but telling them the truth will not work out nearly as well in this case. Whether Trump held their health benefits hostage or was genuinely forced to fund them by Democrats, it is undeniable that the Democrats stood up for coal miners, and Republicans did not.