Published: Wed, February 15, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Former Goldman Sachs Exec Confirmed to Head Treasury

Steven Mnuchin was confirmed by the US Senate on Monday night as the new Secretary of the Treasury. "Never before has the Senate considered such an ethically challenged slate of nominees for key cabinet positions", Senator Chuck Schumer of NY, the minority leader, said in a statement ahead of the hearings.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last month, Mnuchin was scolded by Democrats for failing to disclose almost $US100 million ($130 million) in assets and for not revealing his role as a director for an investment fund based in the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven.

By a vote of 53-47, the Senate confirmed Mnuchin, who was Trump's top fundraiser during his campaign.

A Senate committee vote on Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin has been pushed to Tuesday morning.

Mnuchin will play a leading role should President Donald Trump start any economic confrontations - with China, for example - as the new administration seeks a more balanced approach with countries that run large trade surpluses with the U.S. While he pledged on the campaign trail to designate China a currency manipulator, Trump has since backpedaled on those remarks and Mnuchin has indicated such a label can only be applied if warranted. Joe Manchin, W. Va., was the lone Democrat to join all Republicans in supporting Mnuchin. That vote was unanimous.

As head of the Treasury, Mnunchin will also be in charge of imposing economic sanctions, including Russian Federation.

"It's been really disappointing to see the historic level of obstruction by Senate Democrats", Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday on the Senate floor. Senator Debbie Stabenow of MI said: "Mr. Mnuchin has made his career profiting from the misfortunes of working people".

At the Senate Finance Committee, where Mnuchin was confirmed, the 54-year-old was scrutinised about his time at Goldman and OneWest, where he was accused of running an aggressive foreclosure policy labelled a "foreclosure machine".

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said: "I simply can not forgive somebody who took a look at that banking crisis and took a look at the pain that Wall Street had sent in a wave across all of America, and thought, 'Ah, there's a great new way to make money, foreclosing on people'".

But several Democratic senators raised examples of residents in their states who they said were not treated fairly by OneWest, including elderly homeowners and members of the military.

However, Democrats decried Mnuchin's business strategies while in private sector. He has ruled out privatizing the department or ordering mass staff replacements.

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