Steven Mnuchin ’85 was confirmed Monday as secretary of the treasury by a 53–47 vote in the Senate.
A former Goldman Sachs executive and Hollywood financier, Mnuchin served as national finance chairman for the Trump campaign. He also served as publisher of the News during his time at Yale. As treasury secretary, Mnuchin will be tasked with implementing the administration’s plans to reform the nation’s tax code, revise financial regulations and renegotiate trade deals.
At a swearing-in ceremony in the Oval Office Monday evening, President Donald Trump lauded Mnuchin as a “great champion” for all citizens.
“He will fight for middle-class tax reductions, financial reforms that open up lending and create millions of new jobs and fiercely defend the American tax dollar and your financial security,” Trump said. “And he will also defend our manufacturing jobs from those who cheat and steal and rob us blind.”
Like most of Trump’s nominees, Mnuchin split the Senate vote almost exactly along party lines. Only Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia crossed the aisle to join Republicans in supporting Mnuchin.
During his confirmation hearing last month, Mnuchin faced bitter criticism for his participation during the 2008 financial crisis in what Democrats considered predatory practices and for his failure to disclose almost $100 million in assets to the Senate finance committee. Democrats boycotted a meeting of the Senate finance committee in late January in an effort to delay Mnuchin’s confirmation vote.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., wasted no time explaining why he voted against Mnuchin.
“I want a secretary of the treasury who is going to wake up every day thinking about how to protect ordinary consumers and Main Street businesses,” Murphy said in a statement Monday. “That’s not Steve Mnuchin.”
Like many of his fellow Senate Democrats, Murphy denounced Mnuchin for profiting from the 2008 recession.
The Yale College Democrats echoed Murphy’s sentiments in a statement to the News on Tuesday. In particular, the statement expressed concern that Mnuchin will gut the rules and regulations instituted under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to protect against another financial meltdown.
“Our treasury secretary should be someone willing to stand up for average Americans against Wall Street,” the statement read. “Steve Mnuchin’s record at Goldman Sachs and later as the owner of the predatory OneWest Bank shows no evidence that he will be willing to protect the financial interests of consumers and working families.”
Chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party J.R. Romano voiced his broad support for Trump’s cabinet picks and said that Mnuchin is no exception.
The real story, Romano added, is Democrats’ “wildly disrespectful” behavior during the confirmation process. To Romano, Democratic opposition seems less like a matter of the nominees credentials than of disdain for Trump.
“If Donald Trump says something is yellow, they’ll stomp and scream and say that it’s orange,” Romano said. “It’s truly a sad state for the Democratic Party.”
With his swearing-in Monday, Mnuchin became the first Yale alumnus sworn into Trump’s cabinet. Retired banker and investor Wilbur Ross ’59 and ex-neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson ’73 — Trump’s nominees to lead the Department of Commerce and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, respectively — were approved by the Senate banking and commerce committees, respectively. The two now await votes by the full Senate.
Meanwhile, Stephen Schwarzman ’69 and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi SOM ’80 are serving on Trump’s economic advisory council.
Just 9.72 percent of students view Mnuchin “favorably” or “very favorably,” according to a News survey released in January.