Former OneWest Bank head Steve Mnuchin was confirmed as treasury secretary late Monday by the Senate in a 53-47 vote.
Politico reports that Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only Democrat to vote for the man progressive groups have branded the “foreclosure king” for his tenure at OneWest Bank, formerly known as IndyMac.
Mnuchin, 54, was Donald Trump’s campaign finance manager, and as treasury secretary, he will shape policies on taxes, financial regulation and the economy.
As Politico notes, Mnuchin is the third former Goldman Sachs executive to lead the Treasury Department in recent decades, following in the steps of Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson.
Trump has empowered Mnuchin to immediately play a key role in financial regulatory reform by directing the treasury secretary to confer with other top regulators and report back on potential changes within four months.
Mnuchin will do so in his role as chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the industry’s uber-regulator, which is tasked with coordinating oversight across agencies.
The treasury secretary wields tremendous power and influence over markets and the economy, overseeing the collection of all federal taxes and managing government revenue.
The department will likely play a major role in helping to design and push through Congress an overhaul of both the corporate and individual tax code as well as implementing what could be a very large infrastructure spending plan.
Shortly before the vote, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told his colleagues, “The American people cannot afford to suffer through another financial crisis, and can’t afford to have a master Wall Street manipulator put in the position that we should be relying on to protect us from that kind of financial manipulation. We shouldn’t elevate or celebrate people who really fed off of the misery and the challenges of others.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that by March 17, Mnuchin will need to convince Congress to increase the nation’s debt limit, and if he cannot, he will have to start using a series of extraordinary measures to extend the deadline for several weeks in order to avoid a U.S. default on its debt.
Mnuchin is yet another in a long line of Trump Cabinet picks with both questionable qualifications and questionable pasts. Democrats rightly opposed his nomination because he helped his rich hedge fund clients shelter their wealth offshore while simultaneously leading a “foreclosure machine” at OneWest bank.
As if we needed yet another reminder that the current administration’s focus will likely only be on the rich.