Financial nominees prove just how disconnected Trump is from reality
Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross are competent and knowledgable they just dont sound like they will lead the type of upheaval that Trump promised
We are transferring power back to you, the people, Donald Trump told the nation on Friday. For too long, a small group in our nations capital has reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Not any more, he pledged.
Well, now the work begins, and last week we got the first chance to see the men, Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross, most charged with fulfilling Trumps vow.
In the past, Trump told Americans during his inauguration, the victories of Washington power brokers have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And many Americans, especially the blue-collar and lower-middle-class voters who gave Trump his victory, certainly share that view.
Yes, the economy has staged a remarkable recovery during Barack Obamas eight years at the helm, and the unemployment rate shrank. But many Americans dont feel better off, in large part because wealth gains went to those who had enough capital to invest in the stocks when the Standard & Poors 500-index began its remarkably long bull run in March 2009, buying when assets were at their very cheapest. People such as Trumps treasury secretary pick Mnuchin (net worth in the hundreds of millions) and commerce secretary Ross (a multibillionaire). Mnuchin is so rich he forgot to disclose $100m of assets ahead of his confirmation hearing.
At least the first phase of Senate confirmation hearings for both men should reassure Americans that they have a solid working knowledge of business and finance unlike, say, Rick Perry, the would-be energy secretary who didnt know until recently what the energy department did.
The reality is that both Mnuchin and Ross are competent and knowledgable.
But they just dont sound like the kind of guys who will lead the type of Washington upheaval that Trump promised to deliver. When Trumps supporters cheered his pledge to make sure they share in the nations riches, did they have in mind that their leader would appoint a treasury secretary who made a fortune from OneWest, a California bank that became notorious for its particularly aggressive approach to foreclosures?
Californias attorney general, Kamala Harris who has since won election to the Senate and will be among those voting on Mnuchins nomination found evidence of widespread misconduct in OneWests business practices, although her agency never pursued any formal charges. The justice department is still reviewing claims brought by whistleblowers against OneWest in federal court, based on allegations that the bank didnt deal with applications for loan modifications properly, potentially harming thousands of ordinary Americans.
Ross, with fewer skeletons in his closet than Mnuchin, has had one of the smoothest rides of all of Trumps nominees thus far. Yes, he has outsourced a few thousand jobs, and having worked to restructure bankrupt companies his business practices have cost other jobs. But he has won the support of at least some union leaders, including the United Steelworkers of America.