Mick Mulvaney, Donald Trump's pick for budget director, told the right-wing John Birch Society the Federal Reserve "choked off economic growth"

Trump's incoming budget director once spoke to a society of right-wing extremists about liking bitcoin over banks

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 20, 2016 1:02PM (EST)


This sort of news shouldn't be surprising anymore, but here it is: President-elect Donald Trump's pick for budget director, Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, is going to be another fox guarding a henhouse.

Mulvaney, who has long blasted the Federal Reserve, spoke at the John Birch Society — a conspiracy theory-peddling organization that once claimed President Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. The John Birch Society was officially kicked out of the conservative movement by intellectual William F. Buckley Jr. in 1962, but apparently Mulvaney didn't get that memo. In July, he delivered a speech to the group chapter in West Columbia, South Carolina, saying the Federal Reserve was evil.

What did Mulvaney have to say exactly? Here's Mother Jones with the recap:

In the speech, Mulvaney blasted the Federal Reserve, saying its actions have "effectively devalued the dollar" and "choke[d] off economic growth." He praised bitcoin as a currency that is "not manipulatable by any government." He told his audience, "You all put out some really good stuff and it's always interesting." He said he was "looking forward to reading 'The shadows of Power,'" a 1988 book by James Perloff with the subtitle 'The Council on Foreign Relations and the American decline." The book advances conspiracy theories about the New York-based think tank, alleging that it advocates "the creation of a world government." After referring to this book, he told the crowd, "Keep doing it."

At the time his remarks were first reported by the South Carolina newspaper The State, Mulvaney issued a statement saying, "I regularly speak to groups across the political spectrum because my constituents deserve access to their congressman. I can’t remember ever turning down an opportunity to speak to a group based on the group’s political ideology."

The same article noted, however, that Mulvaney had received a 90 percent positive rating by the John Birch Society in March, which along with the content of Mulvaney's speech suggests that he is more sympathetic to their views than he may want to admit.

In addition to his disturbing views on the Federal Reserve, Mulvaney's appointment has also raised concerns because of his position on America's federal debt. During a CNBC interview in May, he argued that America's creditors could be persuaded to accept less than their full payment, arguing, "I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed you could make a deal."

When Trump made similar arguments in the past, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen pointed out that the consequence of defaulting on the nation's debt  would be "very severe."

As director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney would hold one of the most powerful positions in the American government. The OMB director is instrumental in shaping the national budget and determining which government agencies are allowed to issue regulations.

Prior to the revelation of his John Birch Society speech, the main concern about Mulvaney was that his outspoken desire to reduce Social Security and Medicare spending contradicted President-elect Trump's campaign promises to leave those programs untouched.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump Gold Currency John Birch Society Mick Mulvaney Silver Currency