Monday, February 13, 2017

Progressive Breakfast: Steve Mnuchin Is No Joe Kennedy and He's Unfit for His New Gig


Richard Eskow
Steve Mnuchin Is No Joe Kennedy and He’s Unfit for His New Gig
When Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Kennedy to serve the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), FDR was reportedly asked why he had appointed such a crook. “Takes one to catch one,” Roosevelt is said to have replied. By all accounts, Kennedy did an excellent job. But there was a major difference between Joe Kennedy’s outlook and Steve Mnuchin’s. Kennedy understood that Wall Streeters were rascals who needed strict oversight. Mnuchin wants to go easy on them.


Mnuchin expected to be confirmed today. Reuters: “…no Republicans have declared opposition, setting the stage for a party-line 52-48 vote. The vote is set for around 7 p.m. EST.”
Expect more Wall Streeters in the Treasury. Politico: “Senior Goldman Sachs banker Jim Donovan is under strong consideration for deputy Treasury secretary and could serve as Mnuchin’s number two if confirmed by the Senate, people familiar with the matter said. Justin Muzinich, a former Morgan Stanley banker now at Muzinich & Co., is likely to take a senior position possibly as undersecretary for domestic finance or counselor … Economist David Malpass … is expected to be nominated by President Trump to serve as undersecretary for international affairs … [He] served as chief economist at Bear Stearns.”
Questions raised about Carl Icahn’s role. NYT: “[Six Democratic] senators will raise concerns that Mr. Icahn will work to change regulations to benefit his own investments. They are also seeking assurances that safeguards have been put in place to ensure that Mr. Icahn does not have access to information that is not public that could be used to make profitable trades.”
Dems prepare for Thursday Puzder hearing. The Hill: “He admitted to hiring a housekeeper who was an illegal immigrant, his wife once accused him of domestic violence (an accusation she has since retracted), and groups have attacked the way workers are treated at his restaurants. Democrats are promising to raise those issues … Some conservatives question whether he would be weak on immigration enforcement…”
Corporate lobbyists rally around Puzder. Politico: “More than 100 trade associations have signed onto a letter of support backing Trump labor nominee Andy Puzder … There is also pressure on Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).”


“Trump undertakes most ambitious regulatory rollback since Reagan” reports W. Post: “The fallout is already rippling across the federal ­bureaucracy and throughout the U.S. economy, affecting how dentists dispose of mercury fillings, how schools meet the needs of poor and disabled students, and whether companies reject mineral purchases that fuel one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts. The campaign has alarmed ­labor unions, public safety advocates and environmental activists, who fear losing regulations that have been in place for years, along with relatively new federal mandates.”
Trump won’t be able to use American steel for controversial pipelines. Boston Globe: “The Dakota pipeline is almost complete, so its developers don’t need to buy much, if any, additional pipe … As for Keystone … hundreds of miles worth of 36-inch pipe — already purchased for the project — is stacked in a field and waiting for construction to begin. Add to that the fact that few American steelmakers make the type of steel required for the pipeline.”


Republicans float health care reforms. NYT: “The administration is poised to issue a proposed regulation to try to stabilize insurance markets, and House Republicans are drafting legislation with a similar purpose. The regulation and the bills are intended to hold down insurance premiums and to lure insurers back into the public marketplaces … Insurers are seeking immediate governmental action because they must decide by early May what kinds of health plans they will offer on the exchanges in 2018 … Republicans in Congress are also warming to the idea of continuing payments to insurance companies to help cover the out-of-pocket costs for people with low incomes. House Republicans filed suit against the Obama administration to stop these payments … and a federal district judge ruled for the lawmakers in May.”
DNC Chair race remains unsettled with two weeks to go. ABC: “There is also anxiety among some in the party that the competition between Ellison and Perez too closely resembles a proxy battle of the bitter 2016 primary. That in part is why lesser-known candidates are getting a close look too for the chairperson’s role … Conventional wisdom among party members seems to be that none of the hopefuls have yet secured the majority of votes needed and so the election will likely take multiple rounds of ballots at the end of the month.”

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