What would happen if one of the world’s finance leaders took an hour to meet with a small group of scientists, faculty and educators? Something extraordinary and heartening.
To celebrate his daughter’s high school graduation last month, President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, came to the S.C. Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics in Hartsville. He gave a funny and thoughtful commencement address, focusing in part on the meaning of the Declaration’s exceptional phrase “the pursuit of happiness.”
Following the graduation, Director Mulvaney graciously took time to meet with a small group of alumni, faculty and staff to discuss science, federal budgeting follies and policy, disease, basic research, life and priorities. If you’ve ever heard Mr. Mulvaney speak, you know he is articulate and passionate in presenting reasoned positions designed to help Americans prosper.
The alumni represent a wide range of respected professionals. The Governor’s School instills rigor, intellectual curiosity and a community of involved, smart citizens. A number of alums are concerned that federal budget decisions will be detrimental to scientific research — and their lives’ work in labs, medicine and the environment.
The conversation about his proposed budget was frank, issue-focused and respectful, focusing on the intersection between finance theory and personal experience. A good budget should clearly express the drafter’s presuppositions, priorities and vision for improving human outcomes. The Trump administration’s budget is an important start to accomplishing that (e.g. striving for 3 percent growth helps everyone).
Disagreements remain after our meeting. Yet — and this is the hopeful and important piece — all in the room will continue to engage on issues political and economic with each other and in our communities. Ongoing debate will forge the priorities we desire for our personal lives and from our government. This is good citizenship. I have never been more proud of the Governor’s School community.
My sincere thanks to Director Mulvaney and Governor’s School President Hector Flores for providing this exceptional exchange. I think we can all take heart for South Carolina and for our nation: Accomplished citizens of goodwill and passion are forging a better future for us all. This is what happened on a Saturday in Hartsville.