US & Canada

Former US banker Steve Mnuchin confirms he will be US treasury secretary

Steven Mnuchin at Trump Tower Image copyright AP
Image caption Steven Mnuchin amassed a fortune during his 17 years at Goldman Sachs

Former Goldman Sachs executive Steve Mnuchin has confirmed he will be the new US treasury secretary ahead of an official announcement.

Mr Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday his priority in his new job would be to cut corporate taxes and boost the economy.

He said that cutting taxes would stimulate "huge economic growth".

Mr Mnuchin was Mr Trump's campaign finance chairman and has no government experience. He earned a fortune over 17 years at Goldman Sachs investment bank.

He told CNBC that most tax cuts would benefit middle-income people.

"Any reductions we have in upper income taxes will be offset by less deductions so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class," he said.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump picked Tom Price as health secretary and Elaine Chao as transportation secretary.

He is still weighing his options in filling the posts of state and defence.

Wall Street insider

After leaving Goldman Sachs Mr Mnuchin founded a movie production company that was behind such box office hits as the X-Men franchise and American Sniper.

But it is not yet clear whether Mr Trump's first key economic policy move, potentially picking a consummate Wall Street insider to helm the nation's financial system, will be welcomed by supporters who were energised by the Republican's vow to "drain the swamp" of special interests.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Tom Price (L) has been picked as health secretary and Elaine Chao (R) for transportation secretary

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross - known as "the king of bankruptcy" for his restructuring of failing industries - is tipped to be named as Mr Trump's commerce secretary.

Elaine Chao

Ms Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, led the Labor Department from 2001-09 under President George W Bush.

Born in Taiwan, she was the first Asian-American woman to hold a position in a presidential cabinet.

The 63-year-old also served as deputy secretary of transportation in President George HW Bush's administration.

Ms Chao will play a crucial role under Mr Trump, who has vowed to make infrastructure spending on the country's roads, bridges and other public transit an integral part of his agenda.

She came to the US with her family at the age of eight and settled in New York, where her father became a shipping magnate.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Chao is married to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

Tom Price

Mr Price, a 62-year-old congressman and orthopaedic surgeon, serves as the chairman of the House of Representatives budget committee.

The Georgia congressman has fiercely opposed the Affordable Healthcare Act, considered Mr Obama's flagship measure, and is expected to play a key role in efforts to dismantle the law.

During his election campaign, Mr Trump vowed to repeal and replace the act, but has since said he favours keeping certain provisions.

Mr Trump said Mr Price was a "tireless problem solver" and "the go-to expert on healthcare policy".

Mr Price said he was looking forward to the opportunity of serving as health secretary on behalf of the American people.

He said his aim was to create a new system that worked for patients, families and doctors, adding that it should "protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit".

But the appointment provoked a backlash from Democrats.

Liberal New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted: "Donald Trump's HHS pick makes it clear that he wants to take away health care from the aging and the poor. It will be up to us to stop him."

On Tuesday, Mr Trump met Mitt Romney for a second time despite one of his top aides launching a public campaign against offering the former Massachusetts governor the post of secretary of state.

Mr Trump had dinner with Mr Romney and the president-elect's chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway spoke out against Mr Romney on Sunday, saying Mr Trump's supporters felt "betrayed" he would consider the 2012 Republican nominee for the prominent role.

Image caption Donald Trump had dinner with Mitt Romney (right) and his chief of staff Reince Priebus (left) on Tuesday

Mr Romney was one of Mr Trump's harshest critics during the campaign.

The president-elect will also sit down with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.

The two men are leading contenders for the all-important diplomatic post.

Earlier, Mr Trump met retired Gen David Petraeus. He said he was "very impressed" with the former CIA director in a tweet after their meeting on Monday.

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