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New Treasury Secretary Announces Ambitious Goals

Steven Mnuchin

Steven Mnuchin

The recently confirmed Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, today announced his ambitious goals for a U.S. tax-code overhaul by August. He also wants to deliver economic growth at rates not seen in more than a decade, according to the Wall Street Journal. He said that the slower economic growth since the financial crisis had primarily been an anomaly and a result of Obama administration policies that can be reversed

In his first television interview since assuming office, he told CNBC that "We want to get this done by the August recess. We've been working closely with the leadership in the House and the Senate, and we're looking at a combined plan.” However, experts believe that this is unrealistic considering the fact that lawmakers already have a complex agenda to deal with.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly made promises for tax reform and regulatory cuts since he took office without giving many details. Mnuchin said the administration is "primarily focused on a middle income tax cut and a simplification for business." He reiterated what he told CNBC in November that he is focused on any tax cuts for the wealthy being canceled out with closed loopholes.

The new Treasury Secretary said the administration still aims for "sustainable growth of 3 percent or more." He said he expects to hit that mark more toward the end of next year.

Mnuchin said the tax plan should not necessarily be judged by how much the United States tax revenue drops but by how much economic growth the reform could create. Critics on both sides of the aisle have raised concerns that the plan would not be revenue neutral, meaning that any tax cuts are canceled out by closing existing loopholes.

Steven Mnuchin was confirmed as Treasury Secretary on February 13.

During Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) went to bat for him, saying claims that his businesses helped precipitate the 2008 financial crisis were “lacking in merit.” Mnuchin, 54, is a hedge fund manager, former Goldman Sachs partner, and former executive with IndyMac and OneWest Banks.

When nominated for Treasury Secretary in November, Mnuchin said at that time that he would end the government’s controversial conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “We will make sure that when they are restructured, they are absolutely safe and don’t get taken over again. But we’ve got to get them out of government control,” according to Bloomberg.

However, in today’s interviews, when CNBC asked Mnuchin about his plan for Fannie and Freddie, he stayed fairly vague on the issue. “It’s something I’ve already started working on,” he said. “I met with Mel Watt this week. I had a very good conversation. I’ve met with Jeb Hensarling, and we’ve talked about various different issues.”

As discussed in Benzinga, Mnuchin reiterated that the administration is committed to housing reform, suggesting that Fannie and Freddie shareholders will likely have some form of resolution within the next four years. “They’ve been sitting there for too long of a period of time, and we need a solution. We’re going to look at this. I think this will be one of the areas where hopefully we will have a bipartisan solution. I think there’s a lot of people that share the view that we need to do something with them,” Mnuchin said.

“This is something we’re going to study carefully, so I don’t think you’re going to see something right away from us, whereas tax reform is a near-term issue. But this is definitely on the agenda,” Mnuchin concluded.

About Author: Sandra Lane

Sandra Lane has extensive experience covering the default servicing industry. She contributed regularly to DS News' predecessor, REO Magazine, from 2004 to 2006, covering local market trends, the effects of macroeconomic shifts on market conditions, and "big-picture" analyses of industry-driving indicators. But her understanding of the mortgage and real estate business extends even beyond those pre-crisis days. She is a former real estate broker and grew up in what she calls "a real estate family." A journalism graduate of the University of North Texas, she has written articles for various newspapers and trade journals, as well as company communications for several major corporations.
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