Another part of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet has been filled with the selection of Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury Secretary. Who exactly is Mnuchin, and what can be expected from him as Treasury Secretary?
Here are seven things you need to know about Mnuchin.
1. Mnuchin was a last-minute addition to the Trump team in April. Mnuchin was attending Trump’s victory party after the New York primary when Trump suddenly brought him onstage to gloat about the businessmen standing behind him. The next day, Trump offered Mnuchin the role of leading his campaign’s finance team; Mnuchin accepted.
2. Mnuchin has donated to many Democrats in the past. According to Conservative Review‘s Phil Shiver, this includes:
- $1,000 to Al Gore for President in 1999
- $2,000 to Jon Corzine in 1999, Democratic New Jersey senator, then governor
- $1,000 to Bill Bradley for President in 1999
- $7,400 to Hillary Clinton for NY in 2000, 2004, 20005, 2007
- $2,500 to Chuck Schumer in 1998, 2002
- $4,100 to John Edwards for President in 2003, 2007
- $1,000 to Democratic Victory 2004
- $10,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in 2004
- $1,000 to Ken Salazar in 2004
- $4,300 to Barack Obama in 2004, 2007
- $1,000 to Tom Daschle in 2004
- $2,500 to John Kerry in 2003, 2004
- $1,000 to Maria Cantwell in 2006
- $2,100 to Ned Lamont in 2006
- $1,000 to John Cranley in 2006, Democratic Mayor of Cincinnati
- $2,100 to Bill Richardson for President in 2007
- $2,300 to Chris Dodd for President in 2007
- $1,000 to Frank Lautenberg in 2007
- $11,500 to Michael Wildes from 2004-2014, Democratic candidate for congress
Shiver also points out that Mnuchin has donated to a few Republicans, but most of them are establishment types like Mitt Romney. Trump and Mnuchin seem to be similar with regard to their past political donations.
3. Mnuchin and George Soros purchased a bank that engaged in shady practices. Soros, the evil bankroller of the Democrat Party, bought a bank with Mnuchin and other hedge fund titans called IndyMac, which they subsequently renamed to OneWest Bank. OneWest Bank seemed to engage some sketchy business practices, according to National Public Radio:
The bank developed a reputation during the recession for being quick to foreclose on delinquent homeowners, closing on more than 36,000 households under Mnuchin, according the housing-advocacy group California Reinvestment Coalition. In 2011, protesters went to Mnuchin’s Bel Air mansion with a sign that read, “Stop Taking Our Homes.”
Erick Erickson points out at The Resurgent that OneWest Bank was deemed by a judge in 2009 as “inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious” and that the bank is currently being investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mnuchin was the bank’s chairman and CEO before it was bought out by CIT Group in 2015.
4. Mnuchin used to work at Goldman Sachs. According to the BBC, Mnuchin worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years “where he oversaw trading of mortgage-backed bonds and rose from partner to chief information officer.” Mnuchin is not the first Goldman Sachs alumnus to be Treasury Secretary, as both Henry Paulson and Robert Rubin–who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, respectively–were also Goldman Sachs alumni.
The reason why Mnuchin’s former work with Goldman Sachs is significant is because Trump used the investment bank as a bludgeon against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the primary, per Hot Air:
Watch the clip below from January of Trump telling a crowd at 1:30 that Ted Cruz was “totally controlled, lock, stock, and barrel” by Goldman Sachs and Citibank because he had made a loan to his campaign underwritten by a margin loan from Goldman and had an additional line of credit from Citibank. Cruz’s wife Heidi also worked for Goldman, a fact that Trump fans used against Cruz. Trump’s demagoguery over Cruz’s Goldman ties was effective enough that on the final day of Cruz’s campaign, when he was confronted by a few Trump voters on the morning of the primary in Indiana, one of them thought to heckle him by shouting, “Where’s your Goldman Sachs jacket at? We know your wife worked there.” Goldman was used as a byword for how Cruz, supposedly, would forever be beholden as president to the fatcat special interests who were bankrolling him. Quite in contrast to the supposedly independent billionaire Trump, who’s now conveniently staffing up with some of the supposed puppetmasters.
Will hardcore Trumpists be outraged that their man selected a former Goldman Sachs employee to run the Treasury Department?
5. Mnuchin has spurned the idea of tax cuts for the rich. In an interview with CNBC, Mnuchin declared that “any reductions we have in upper-income taxes will be offset by less deductions so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class” and stressed that Trump’s tax plan is “a middle-income tax cut.”
If what Mnuchin is saying is correct, then Trump’s tax plan won’t be that much different than Mitt Romney’s in 2012.
6. Mnuchin has called for reducing Dodd-Frank’s regulations. Here’s what Mnuchin said about Dodd-Frank in an interview with CNBC, per the Wall Street Journal:
“The number one problem with Dodd-Frank is that it’s way too complicated and cuts back lending,” banker Steven Mnuchin told CNBC in his first public comments since being tapped by the president-elect to head his economic team.
“So we want to strip back parts of Dodd-Frank and that will be the number one priority on the regulatory side,” Mr. Mnuchin said, according to a rush transcript of the interview.
Mnuchin also called the Volcker Rule–preventing banks from engaging in certain speculative investments–as “way too complicated and people don’t know how to interpret it.”
Dodd-Frank is a behemoth plaguing the financial industry, and it’s certainly a step forward to repeal parts of it, although it would be better to repeal all of it.
7. Trump once sued Mnuchin. According to the BBC, Trump sued Dune Capital–Mnuchin’s hedge fund–among other lenders in order to extend loans for a Trump skyscraper in Chicago. A settlement was eventually reached.