News Analysis: Trump's choice for treasury secretary begs the question of his populist promises

by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- While President-elect Donald Trump was swept into victory on a wave of populism, his choice for treasury secretary seems like one intended to help Wall Street rather than Main Street, experts said.

Trump has vowed to help the millions of working class people who have been left behind in an economy that has not fully recovered since the crash of 2007-2008.

While the official unemployment rate stands at around 5 percent, the number only calculates those actively looking for work. That means the millions of Americans who have given up the job search out of sheer frustration are not being counted, making the actual number of unemployed people perhaps up to 15 percent, according to some economists. The labor force participation rate, a more accurate estimate of job market health, stands at its lowest in decades.

Trump has chosen Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary, a veteran of Wall Street, raising questions among experts whether he will help the working class people who elected Trump.

"Mnuchin is very close to Wall Street, so it is hard to see him doing much to protect the working class," Darrell West, a Brookings Institution senior fellow, told Xinhua.

"He will do more to help moneyed interests than those of average means. This undermines Trump's stated interest in helping the little guy. His tax policies will give half of the benefits to the top one percent," he said.

"The new president has to be careful not to turn his back on those who elected him," he said.

Still, Trump's economic policies could be very stimulative because he plans to cut taxes and devote 1 trillion U.S. dollars to infrastructure repair. That will raise growth if his fellow Republicans ally with him to spend such a vast sum. However, there is a risk that interest will go up and deficits will rise. That increases the odds of higher inflation, West said.

Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua that the choice of Mnuchin demonstrates that even with the populist message, Trump is looking to people who have financial and business experience.

"While there is public distaste for Wall Street among the populist grassroots, there is acknowledgement that the complexity of financial issues requires someone with experience," he said.

"That said, Mnuchin's close relationship with Trump and experience beyond traditional Wall Street jobs may also allow him to be presented as someone who is not just a financial expert, but one with business and job creation skills," he said.

"It remains to be seen, as there are still many details that need to be filled in, but there's a lot of anticipation, reflected in the markets, that tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks, and investment in infrastructure can drive growth beyond its current levels," he said.

[ Editor: meng ]
 

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