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Mixed reaction to Mnuchin officially taking over as Treasury Secretary

Republicans pleased, Democrats not so much

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Considering the contentious nature of the confirmation process, it’s not a surprise that reaction to Steven Mnuchin officially being sworn in as the next Secretary of the Department of the Treasury varied wildly.

As you might expect, Republicans celebrated Mnuchin’s confirmation, while Democrats decried it.

Here’s a sample of the mixed reaction to Mnuchin being named the 77th Treasury Secretary.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who is likely to work closely with Mnuchin on the Republican-led plan to replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, said he is ready to work with the new leader at the Treasury.

“I congratulate Steven Mnuchin on his confirmation to serve as Treasury Secretary, and I look forward to working with him in my capacity as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee to advance policies that will help all Americans raise their standard of living and create a healthy economy,” Hensarling said in a statement.

Hensarling’s counterpart, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, had basically the opposite reaction, and did so more effusively.

“I am extremely disappointed in Senate Republicans for clearing the way for yet another Wall Street insider to take a critical leadership position in the Administration,” Waters said in a lengthy statement.

“Trump and his fellow Republicans in Congress are determined to pack the Administration with bankers and billionaires, ensuring that special interests are represented, not the needs of hardworking Americans,” Waters continued.

“Steven Mnuchin’s history of predatory home foreclosures, his blatant lies to the Senate regarding the robo-signing of foreclosure documents, and his threats to dismantle consumer protections should have been more than enough to deny his confirmation,” Waters added.

“This confirmation goes beyond letting the fox in the henhouse. They have given the keys to the Treasury to the Foreclosure King,” Waters concluded. “Mr. Mnuchin’s deeply troubling track record makes me very skeptical of his ability to serve in a fair and ethical manner. I will be watching him and the rest of the Trump administration very closely and I promise to continue to hold them accountable.”

Over in the Senate, Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, said that he believes Mnuchin’s background, having chaired the board of OneWest Bank, will serve him well with the Treasury.

“We are well past the tipping point in this debt crisis and both political parties are to blame so I was glad to see President Trump nominate someone from outside of Washington to help fix our country’s financial problems,” Perdue said.

“Steve Mnuchin has a deep understanding of economic policies both on the financial markets and what they mean for Main Street American business,” Perdue continued. “Steve Mnuchin’s input will be extremely valuable as we work to tackle this debt crisis and fix our outdated tax code, and I look forward to working with him on these critical issues.”

On the other side, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, declared her feelings about Mnuchin on both Facebook and Twitter prior to voting against him on Monday night.

“Donald Trump talked a big game about Wall Street – but he's hired enough Goldman Sachs alums to open a new bank branch at the White House,” Warren posted Monday evening.

“Personnel is policy. Hiring Steve Mnuchin and all these Goldman Sachs executives shows that President Trump has no interest in reducing Wall Street’s influence,” Warren continued.

“If Wall Street threatens to blow up the economy again, does anyone seriously expect Steve Mnuchin to tell his buddies to knock it off?,” Warren concluded. “I will be voting NO on Steve Mnuchin’s confirmation tonight. I urge all of my colleagues to do the same.”

Prior to the vote on Mnuchin, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who also serves as the Finance Committee Chairman, praised Mnuchin’s experience and said he is “clearly qualified” to lead the Treasury.

“Mr. Mnuchin has 30 years of experience working in a variety of capacities in the financial sector,” Hatch said Monday. “He has experience managing large and complicated private-sector enterprises and in negotiating difficult compromises and making tough decisions – and being accountable for those decisions. Mr. Mnuchin is clearly qualified to serve as Secretary of the United States Treasury.”

The Democratic leader of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said before the vote that he does not have confidence in Mnuchin or his ability to serve at the Treasury.

“I do not expect to see eye-to-eye on every issue with every Treasury Secretary. I do expect to have confidence that the Treasury Secretary will work on behalf of all Americans -- not just the most fortunate and powerful,” Wyden said.

“Mr. Mnuchin is yet another Trump nominee who has the ethics alarm bells sounding. He appears to be withholding information requested by members of this body,” Wyden continued.

“He misled the Finance Committee and the public about his bank’s foreclosure tactics,” Wyden concluded. “The Mnuchin Rule, the first promise he made on policy as a nominee for Treasury Secretary, has already been broken. I do not believe this is the person who should lead the Treasury Department.”

A number of progressive groups also spoke out against Mnuchin, each echoing similar sentiments about Mnuchin’s supposed unworthiness for his new position.

“Steven Mnuchin’s confirmation is further proof that Donald Trump never intended to keep his campaign promise to drain the swamp,” said Karl Frisch, the executive director of Allied Progress.

“Instead he has filled his cabinet with unqualified Beltway insiders and Wall Street billionaires. Mnuchin is called the ‘Foreclosure King’ for a reason,” Frisch continued. “He made hundreds of millions of dollars from his foreclosure machine of a bank that was accused of ‘widespread misconduct’ by government investigators. This is not the type of man who should be allowed anywhere near the economic policy of our nation.”

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee even went so far as to place a proverbial target on Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, who was the only Democrat to vote to approve Mnuchin.

“Voters will remember that Senate Republicans and Donald Trump just confirmed a former Goldman Sachs banker known as the 'Foreclosure King' to run our economy as Treasury Secretary,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said.

“Starting tonight, we will ensure that Joe Manchin hears from his West Virginia constituents who disapprove of his voting with Wall Street against working families,” Green continued. “Manchin's vote will not just hurt millions of people -- it will hurt Democrats in 2018. Democrats in red states will lose badly in the 2018 general election if they don't excite voters by standing up to Wall Street and big-money interests with backbone.”

Within the housing industry, Mnuchin’s approval was greeted with approval.

Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO David Stevens celebrated Mnuchin and said the trade group is eager to work with him.

“MBA applauds the Senate for confirming Steven Mnuchin as the next Treasury Secretary. His experience and deep knowledge of the financial markets will serve him well in this position,” Stevens said in a statement.

“Specifically, we are encouraged by Secretary Mnuchin’s willingness to focus on GSE reform, tax reform and rebalancing the mortgage market regulatory framework,” Stevens added. “MBA looks forward to working with the Secretary, his team and other members of the Administration to address these and other issues facing the real-estate finance industry and the American economy.”

National Community Reinvestment Coalition President and CEO John Taylor shared similar sentiments.

“As Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin will have the opportunity to shape economic policies to promote fair access to financial services for all Americans, including low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color,” Taylor said.

“NCRC looks forward to meeting with Secretary Mnuchin to discuss how our system of finance can better serve those working their way up the economic ladder,” Taylor continued.

“Secretary Mnuchin can have a widespread impact on average Americans' ability to access mortgages and other forms of credit,” Taylor said. “Finally, Secretary Mnuchin will play a great role in protecting consumers from the kind of unscrupulous lending practices that led to the foreclosure crisis and widespread loss of wealth for blue-collar Americans. We look forward to working with him.”

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