President-elect Donald Trump, walks with his wife Melania Trump, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after a meeting at the U.S. Capitol Nov. 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.
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Trump picks a Treasury Secretary whom Trump voters should oppose

The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/29/16, 9:54 PM ET

Trump likes ex-Goldman Sachs 'foreclosure machine' for Treasury

Rachel Maddow reports on how President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, took advantage of the 2008 mortgage crisis.
Democrats have all kinds of reasons to oppose Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury Secretary, but in an interesting twist, Trump supporters shouldn’t be pleased, either.
Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs, ultimately rising to partner before leaving to start his own hedge fund and launching a production company that bankrolled Hollywood hits like Avatar and American Sniper. Then a relatively unknown banker, Mnuchin became Trump’s finance chairman in May and helped the real-estate mogul raise millions for his campaign.

As Treasury secretary, Mnuchin would oversee the nation’s financial regulations, monetary and tax policy. Trump has pledged on the campaign trail to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform act and cut the corporate tax rate, but Mnuchin kept a low profile during the campaign and his own policy views are unclear. During confirmation hearings, however, he could face questions over his role in running a bank that reportedly foreclosed on tens of thousands of homeowners in California following the housing crisis.
During the presidential campaign, Trump made great strides by claiming to be a populist who’s eager to fight back against the financial elites who ignore the interests of working-class Americans. The Republican was especially dismissive of hedge-fund managers, whom he characterized as “paper pushers” who are “getting away with murder.”

When Trump took on Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primaries, he blasted the senator’s ties to Goldman Sachs, and when Trump took on Hillary Clinton in the general election, he blasted the former Secretary of State for her ties to Goldman Sachs.

And yet, here we are, watching Trump select a Goldman Sachs veteran who started his own hedge fund to run the Department of the Treasury.

But it’s Mnuchin’s role running a “foreclosure machine” that’s probably the most alarming aspect of his resume.

As Rachel explained on the show back in May, Mnuchin is perhaps best known for being one of the most villainous vultures of the 2008 financial collapse – up to and including having protesters find out where he lived and marching to his $26 million mansion, pleading with him not to foreclose on them as he made billions off their misery.

If public affairs in 2016 made any sense, this kind of background would make Mnuchin politically radioactive – the kind of financial insider politicians would go out of their way to keep at arm’s length. Indeed, the typical Trump voter would likely hold a guy like this in contempt.

But the president-elect, confident he can get away with practically anything he wants, nevertheless chose Mnuchin for one of the top cabinet posts in the federal executive branch.

This would ordinarily be the point at which we start exploring Mnuchin’s views on economics, monetary policy, and international finance, but with this guy, such an examination is largely impossible: Mnuchin has no record of public service; he’s never run an agency as large as the Treasury Department; he has no obvious qualifications for the cabinet post; and his views remain something of a mystery.

So how in the world did Mnuchin end up as Trump’s Treasury nominee? It’s surprisingly simple: Mnuchin helped Trump’s campaign by raising a lot of money. This positioned Mnuchin as a leading ally to the Republican, which gave him an opportunity to impress Trump, which led to this decision. Every other consideration was deemed unimportant.

As for what’s next, while Democrats look forward to the confirmation hearings, Mnuchin is sticking to Trump’s script, telling CNBC this morning that massive tax cuts are his “first priority,” with a special emphasis on “cutting corporate taxes.”

He added that he believes the U.S. economy can grow at a sustained rate of 3 percent to 4 percent, which is very unlikely, and which sets a benchmark that the Trump administration will struggle mightily to reach.



Cabinet and Donald Trump

Trump picks a Treasury Secretary whom Trump voters should oppose