Confirmed: Donald Trump Picks Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross for His Cabinet

Mnuchin will be Treasury Secretary, Ross will lead the Commerce Department.

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.

Mr. Trump praised Mnuchin as a “world-class financier, banker and businessman” in a statement.

“Steve Mnuchin is a world-class financier, banker and businessman, and has played a key role in developing our plan to build a dynamic, booming economy that will create millions of jobs,” he said.“His expertise and pro-growth ideas make him the ideal candidate to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.”

In his own statement, Mnuchin said he was “honored” To have a role in the incoming administration.

“I understand what needs to be done to fix the economy,” he said. “I look forward to helping President-elect Trump implement a bold economic agenda that creates good-paying jobs and defends the American worker.”

Mnuchin spoke with reporters Wednesday at Trump Tower about his appointment and his priorities for the incoming administration.

“Our first priority is going to be the tax plan and the tax plan has both the corporate aspects to it — lowering corporate taxes so we make U.S. companies the most competitive in the world, making sure we repatriate trillions of dollars back to the United States, and the personal income taxes where we’re going to have the most significant middle income tax cut since Reagan,” he said. He added that the administration intends to implement the president-elect’s child care program, which Mnuchin predicted would be a “tremendous boon to the economy.”

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(Source:fortune.com;cbsnews.com)
Composite:Getty Images/ AP

Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary Is Wilbur Ross

The President-elect is adding the billionaire investor to his cabinet, according to an official.

Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor considered the “king of bankruptcy” for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits, is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Commerce secretary, a senior transition official said.

The official isn’t authorized to publicly discuss the matter and requested anonymity.

Reputed by Forbes to be worth nearly $3 billion, Ross would represent the interests of U.S. businesses domestically and abroad as the head at Commerce. His department would be among those tasked with carrying out the Trump administration’s stated goal of protecting U.S. workers and challenging decades of globalization that largely benefited multinational corporations.

With a Florida home down the road from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago retreat, the 78-year-old Ross played a role in crafting and selling the president-elect’s tax-cut and infrastructure plans. Ross has suggested that much of America is disgruntled because the economy has left middle-class workers behind and says Trump represents a shift to a “less politically correct direction.”

“Part of the reason why I’m supporting Trump is that I think we need a more radical, new approach to government— at least in the U.S. — from what we’ve had before,” Ross told CNBC in June, referring to Trump’s blunt tone and sweeping promises to reinvigorate economic growth.

The President-elect is adding the billionaire investor to his cabinet, according to an official.

Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor considered the “king of bankruptcy” for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits, is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Commerce secretary, a senior transition official said.

The official isn’t authorized to publicly discuss the matter and requested anonymity.

Reputed by Forbes to be worth nearly $3 billion, Ross would represent the interests of U.S. businesses domestically and abroad as the head at Commerce. His department would be among those tasked with carrying out the Trump administration’s stated goal of protecting U.S. workers and challenging decades of globalization that largely benefited multinational corporations.

With a Florida home down the road from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago retreat, the 78-year-old Ross played a role in crafting and selling the president-elect’s tax-cut and infrastructure plans. Ross has suggested that much of America is disgruntled because the economy has left middle-class workers behind and says Trump represents a shift to a “less politically correct direction.”

“Part of the reason why I’m supporting Trump is that I think we need a more radical, new approach to government— at least in the U.S. — from what we’ve had before,” Ross told CNBC in June, referring to Trump’s blunt tone and sweeping promises to reinvigorate economic growth.

Despite his embrace of populist rhetoric, Ross has enjoyed a patrician lifestyle. He frequently commutes between his offices in New York and home in Palm Beach, Florida, according to Haute Living magazine. He maintains an art collection worth more than $100 million that includes works by the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte. A graduate of Yale University, he pledged a $10 million to help build its management school.

For 24 years as a banker at Rothschild, Ross developed a lucrative specialty in bankruptcy and corporate restructurings. He founded his own firm, W.L. Ross, in 2000 and earned part of his fortune from investing in troubled factories in the industrial Midwest and in some instances generating profits by limiting worker benefits. That region swung hard for Trump in the election on the promise of more manufacturing jobs from renegotiated trade deals and penalties for factories that outsourced their work abroad.

A specialist in corporate turnarounds, Ross buys distressed or bankrupt companies at steep discounts, then seeks to shave costs and generate profits. Some of those cost reductions have come from altering pay and benefits for workers. Since 2000, his firm has invested in more than 178 companies.

Ross most prominently created four companies through mergers and acquisitions that focused on steel, textiles, autos and coal. In some cases, Ross has sold the companies he packaged to even larger globe-spanning companies. In 2005, he sold the International Steel Group, which included the former Bethlehem Steel, to the Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.

And while his investments appear to have proved generally lucrative, they have also at times brought troubling publicity.

In early 2006, the Sago coal mine owned by Ross exploded, triggering a collapse that killed a dozen miners. Federal safety inspectors in 2005 had cited the West Virginia mine with 208 violations.

Ross said afterward that he knew about the safety violations but that the mine’s management had assured him that it was a “safe situation.”

“Oh, my God, it’s the worst week of my entire life,” Ross told ABC News days after the collapse.

If confirmed by the Senate as Commerce secretary, Ross would oversee nearly 47,000 employees and a budget of roughly $8 billion.

Among its responsibilities, the cabinet department provides data on the economy through the Census Bureau and monitors the environment through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

One former Commerce secretary, Donald Evans, noted that a prime responsibility is opening up markets around the world for U.S. companies and workers.

“What you are is ambassador to the world from America,” said Evans, who served under President George W. Bush. “It’s critically important when you go to other countries that, first and foremost, you care about them, the citizens of their country.”

That advice clashes somewhat with the promises made by Trump, who campaigned on the doctrine of putting “America first.” The president-elect told voters that Mexico, China and other countries had played U.S. trade negotiators for fools.

“Under a Trump administration, no American citizen will ever again feel that their needs come second to the citizens of foreign countries,” Trump said in April.

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(Source:fortune.com)
Photo: European Pressphoto Agency