Trump’s Treasury Secretary Pick Mnuchin Says Fixing Roads, Bridges A Top Goal

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump has filled more top posts on his economic team — picking former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and financier Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department.

         Mnuchin is confirming that he and Ross are joining Trump's Cabinet, pending confirmation by the Senate.

         He tells CNBC's "Squawk Box" in an interview Wednesday that "we're thrilled to work for the president-elect and honored to have these positions."

         Mnuchin says "sustained economic growth" is the chief priority of the incoming administration and he says "we can absolutely get to sustained 3 to 4 percent" in the gross domestic product.

         He's also outlining what he calls "the largest tax change" since President Ronald Reagan — cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, a "big" middle-class income tax cut and simplifying taxes.

         Mnuchin led Trump's finance operations during the presidential campaign and became close to the president-elect and his family.

         Ross is a billionaire investor who's considered the "king of bankruptcy" for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits.

         The president-elect's pick for treasury secretary says federal spending on roads and bridges will be a "big priority for the administration."

         Speaking to reporters in Trump Tower Wednesday, Steven Mnuchin said the country needs infrastructure that is "built for the 21st Century." President-elect Donald Trump emphasized infrastructure investment throughout his campaign.

         Mnuchin said the administration will work with Congress to figure out how to pay for this effort. He said funding options include some public-private partnerships.

         Mnuchin also said he expects U.S. interest rates to stay "relatively low for the next couple of years" — but eventually they will rise.

         On "Squawk Box," Mnuchin said the country is in a period of low rates that "have come up a little bit, which I think makes sense."

         He's putting people on notice that "eventually we are going to have higher interest rates and that's something that this country is going to need to deal with."

         Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has suggested that the central bank is on track to raise interest rates when policymakers hold their final meeting of the year next month.

         Yellen has said she has no plans to step down before her four-year term ends in early 2018.

         Key members of Donald Trump's economic team are promising major changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank law Congress passed to prevent another financial crisis.

         Critics say the law went too far to hinder banks from making loans that people and businesses need to spend and hire.

         Mnuchin said loans are "the engine of growth" for small- and medium-sized businesses, and that the fallout from Dodd-Frank has been a cutting back on lending.

         On "Squawk Box" Mnuchin said the incoming administration wants to "strip back parts of Dodd-Frank that prevent banks from lending, and that'll be the number one priority on the regulatory side."

         Commerce Secretary pick financier Ross blames the law for putting banks in a position where he says "they now have more compliance people than they have lending officers."

 

 

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