Transition Briefing: Donald Trump’s Economic Team Outlines Its Big Plans
■ The Trump administration expects sustained economic growth of 3 percent to 4 percent a year. “That is absolutely critical for the country,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
Critical, perhaps, but difficult, considering the United States has not seen consistent growth like that since the 1990s.
■ The Trump administration will label China a currency manipulator “if we determine” that’s warranted.
■ The top regulatory priority will be eliminating “parts” of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul that discourage lending, but the administration will not push for a full repeal. Mr. Mnuchin:
“As we look at Dodd-Frank, the No. 1 problem with Dodd-Frank is it’s way too complicated, and it cuts back lending. We want to strip back parts of Dodd-Frank that prevent banks from lending. That will be the No. 1 priority on the regulatory side.”
Cabinet announcements keep coming.
The president-elect is full of surprises, but absent a big one, Wednesday morning’s announcements may be all we get for the rest of the week.
In addition to Mr. Mnuchin, there were Mr. Ross, a billionaire investor, for commerce secretary, and Mr. Ricketts, part of the Ameritrade fortune and a part owner of the Chicago Cubs, for deputy commerce secretary.
The Trump cabinet, assuming it is confirmed, will be worth billions of dollars (add to the new trio Mr. Trump’s previously announced education secretary pick, Betsy DeVos of the Amway fortune). But the team is not shying away from its Wall Street and moneyed roots.
Mr. Mnuchin said on CNBC:
“One of the good things about both Wilbur and I — we have actually been bankers. We were the only two people during the financial crisis that were issued licenses by the government. We’ve been in the business of regional banking and we understand what it is to make loans. That’s the engine of growth to small and medium sized businesses.”
With Republicans expected to hold 52 seats in the Senate, blocking confirmation would be hard, but Democrats signaled that both men would face tough questioning.
Mr. Mnuchin’s time atop a Los Angeles bank known for its foreclosures will definitely come up, as suggested in comments by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee.
“Given Mr. Mnuchin’s history of profiting off the victims of predatory lending, I look forward to asking him how his Treasury Department would work for Americans who are still waiting for the economic recovery to show up in their communities. The Treasury secretary has the power to help reconnect working Americans with this country’s economic engine, whether it’s through tax reforms that fight unfairness, rules that rein in Wall Street abuses, or infrastructure and trade policies that create jobs in the U.S. Any Treasury nominee will find partners among Democrats eager to pursue those policies. I hope to learn much more about Mr. Mnuchin’s views as his nomination gets a full and thorough review from the Finance Committee in the coming weeks.”
Team Twitter: Update your ‘following’ list.
Depends on your definition of ‘populist.’
Among the president-elect himself, his commerce secretary pick, his deputy commerce pick, his education secretary choice and his prospective Treasury secretary, much of Mr. Trump’s team ranges from multimillionaires to billionaires. Oh, and Mr. Trump is looking for a post for Linda McMahon, the World Wrestling Entertainment impresario and with a fortune estimated at $855 million, no slouch on the money front.
So is the incoming administration truly populist?
Anthony Scaramucci, the financier and Trump transition official, had some thoughts Wednesday:
“Well, it depends on how you define populist. If you’re talking about an administration that’s focused on the potential for the United States and the potential for the American people and where Mr. Trump wants to be president for everybody, which includes the working class and the middle class, then I guess by that definition. But I don’t know. It depends on what your definition of populist — sometimes there’s a misnomer to that definition that’s somewhat of a pejorative. I don’t see it that way. What I do see is that the people that I grew up with, which are basically the working class people of the United States, they need a break. And we need to switch them from going from the working class into the working poor into what I call the aspirational working class, which my dad was a member of.”
Are millionaires and billionaires really “draining the swamp”?
“You want some people that are insiders and understand the system, and some outsiders that are creative thinkers, out of the box thinkers and disrupters. If you can get that blend right, then you’ll be able to affect change in Washington. I think if you put too many of one or the other, if you have status quo presiders, well nothing’s going to change. If you have too many status quo disrupters, Washington is a very healthy immunological system, you’ll see a full blown organ rejection.”
A new name in the hopper?
Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s conservative Republican governor, is under consideration for interior secretary. Ms. Fallin had been floated as a potential vice-presidential candidate shortly before the Republican National Convention over the summer. Her aide, Steve Mullins, is also being mentioned for a top staff post if she gets the job.
And no, Mr. President-elect, it wasn’t a landslide.
With Alabama and New Mexico certifying their votes, an update is in order. Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead over Mr. Trump climbed overnight to 2,370,700 — or 1.8 percentage points. Eleven states and the District of Columbia now record a higher percentage of votes for Mrs. Clinton than President Obama received in 2012.
Trump says he’ll move away from business, but how?
Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he would leave his “great business in total” before moving into the Oval Office, promising further details next month about his efforts to avoid conflicts of interest as he becomes the nation’s 45th president.
It is unclear whether the steps Mr. Trump is prepared to take would be enough to satisfy ethics experts who say that putting his children in charge of the business would not be enough to ensure that his official decisions are independent of his personal financial ones. His daughter Ivanka has attended a number of meetings with heads of state since the election, and she would be one of the main officers of the Trump Organization.
In an interview with The New York Times last week, Mr. Trump said that presidents “can’t have a conflict of interest” and that it would be extremely difficult to sell his businesses because they are real estate holdings.
Trump highlights ISIS claims about Ohio State attack.
Mr. Trump, in his now-familiar early-morning Twitter presence, let the world know his thoughts about the recent Ohio State University attack, in which a man intentionally rammed a car into pedestrians on a busy campus sidewalk and then slashed passers-by with a butcher knife:
It is, naturally, more complicated than that. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, did call the attacker, identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Somali-born Ohio State student, a “soldier” of the terrorist group. But technically, it was his mother who was admitted to the United States as a refugee in 2014.
And law enforcement officers are still working to determine if the assailant acted alone and if the assault was an act of terrorism.
Speaking of Trump’s children …
Donald Trump Jr. took a quick trip to Turkey, according to reports in newspapers there, for a deer-hunting excursion near Antalya, a Turkish resort city know for its yacht-filled Old Harbor, beaches and luxury hotels.
The Turkish daily Hurriyet reported that the visit this week was at the invitation of a Turkish businessman, who was not identified. Turkish authorities provided special guards, the newspaper reported, in addition to security that Mr. Trump’s oldest son had with him.
One Turkish news account said that Donald Trump Jr. “pursued and shot two wild deer.”
Nancy Pelosi survives a scare.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democratic of California, was re-elected House Democratic leader for an eighth term on Wednesday, 134-63. But make no mistake, those votes for her challenger, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, are significant.
Ms. Pelosi has been under fire from many in her party every election year since the Democrats lost control of the House in 2010, and the victory of Mr. Trump in Rust Belt states has led many to clamor for a leadership that is younger and perhaps not from one of the coasts.
Mr. Ryan, a burley former high school football player from Youngstown, appealed to Democrats eager to shed the party’s whiff of coastal elitism and get back to the business of representing the working class.
Typical of the unrest was the sentiment expressed by Representative Kysten Sinema, a relative newcomer to the House from Arizona.
Moving fast on the Trump team.
Judge Merrick B. Garland never came close to getting a hearing on his nomination in March to the Supreme Court. But Republicans cannot seem to move fast enough when it comes to some members of the incoming Trump administration.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader who shut down the Supreme Court confirmation process, is promising to conduct speedy hearings and to have some nominees ready for a vote on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, deference that has been afforded to past incoming presidents, including President Obama. The hearings will technically occur before the nominations can be made, since that requires Mr. Trump to be in office.
“Even though there’s a lot going on that day, we hope to be able to vote on and confirm a number of the president’s selections for the cabinet so he can get started,” Mr. McConnell told reporters.
Democrats aren’t so sure, particular when it comes to the pick of Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama as attorney general.
In a letter to Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who leads the Judiciary Committee, Senate Democrats said they wanted assurances that the hearings would be “fair and thorough.” That is congressional code for “this might take a while so don’t try to rush us.”
A Sessions showdown could be one of the first tests of wills of the transition next year.
An earlier version of this briefing misstated which one of President-elect Donald J. Trump’s sons took a deer-hunting trip to Turkey. It was Donald Jr., not Eric.
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