President-elect Donald Trump continues to fill his domestic policy team with the nominations of former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary and billionaire Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department.
Trump’s transition team said Wednesday the two will be instrumental in implementing the President-elect’s America First economic plan to "create more than 25 million jobs during the next decade.”
The nomination of Mnuchin, who has broad experience as a financier, may send a favorable signal to Wall Street, where the equity markets have climbed to record highs since Trump’s victory.
As commerce secretary, Ross would represent U.S. businesses domestically and abroad.
Mnuchin served as the Trump campaign’s national finance chairman. After a 17 year career at Goldman Sachs, where he became partner, he turned his attention to Hollywood, where he financed hit movies like “Avatar” and the “X-Men.” He is currently chief executive of Dune Capital, a privately owned hedge fund.
In 2009, Mnuchin was part of a group that bought distressed California mortgage lender IndyMac from the federal government. He became chairman of the company, which was renamed OneWest. Under Mnuchin’s tenure, OneWest faced allegations of inappropriately foreclosing on some delinquent homeowners.
The California Reinvestment Coalition, a housing advocacy group, said OneWest foreclosed on more than 36,000 households under Mnuchin’s watch. Some fair-housing groups also complained to the federal government that OneWest was not fulfilling its legal commitment to make loans in minority neighborhoods.
Ross would lead the department that carries out the incoming president's stated goal of protecting U.S. workers and challenging years of globalization that has primarily benefited multinational corporations.
Ross, a 78-year-old chairman of a private equity firm, is known in financial circles as the "king of bankruptcy" for buying and restoring distressed companies to profitability.
After developing a specialty as a banker in bankruptcy and corporate restructuring, Ross launched W.L. Ross in 2000 and earned part of his fortune by investing in troubled factories in the industrial midwestern United States, sometimes generating profits by limiting employee benefits.
The Trump transition team also announced the nomination of Todd Ricketts, the owner of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, as Deputy Secretary of Commerce.
Foreign policy positions
Trump has been working to fill positions in his Cabinet since the November 8 election. One of the most high profile posts still open is that of secretary of state, with those under consideration including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker and former Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus.
Romney was once among Trump's fiercest critics, but he praised Trump after the two men had dinner Tuesday night and called their discussions "enlightening and interesting and engaging."
Those remarks came nine months after Romney gave a blistering speech supporting Trump's remaining competitors in the race for the Republican Party nomination. In March, Romney said if Trump enacted his economic plans, the country would go into a "prolonged recession” and added that Trump is "very, very not smart" on foreign policy matters.
But on Tuesday, Romney said he was impressed by the Trump transition effort and his Cabinet choices so far. Romney, who lost the 2012 presidential election to Barack Obama, also highlighted what he called a "message of inclusion and bringing people together."
Earlier Tuesday, Trump selected Georgia Representative Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and the administration's efforts to repeal and replace Obama's signature healthcare legislation.
Price, a physician, has said he wants a healthcare system that works for patients, families and doctors and leads the world in curing and preventing sickness.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, helped millions of people get health coverage and eliminated things like denials based on pre-existing conditions and limits on the amount of care a person could receive. But premiums under the program have gone up sharply for many people and the program unpopular with many Republicans has been a key target for reforms.
Trump and many members of Congress have long said they will work to replace Obamacare, but have not given much in the way of specific changes they would make.
Trump's other Cabinet pick announced Tuesday was former Labor Department Secretary Elaine Chao as his choice to head the Department of Transportation.
She says Trump has a "clear vision" on how to rebuild the nation's crumbling infrastructure, such as bridges and highways, and create good-paying jobs.
But the president-elect also plans big tax cuts and it is unclear how he would fund such massive rebuilding projects.
All of the Cabinet nominees need U.S. Senate approval.