Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday defended Washington Republicans’ tax-reform plan against criticism it favors big business over everyday taxpayers -- and stood behind a viral photo last week of him and his wife posing with a sheet of dollar bills.
“We don’t believe that,” Mnuchin told “Fox News Sunday” about the tax-plan criticism, led by congressional Democrats.
“This is about making the business tax system competitive, which is about creating jobs. And this is about very significant middle-income tax cuts,” continued Mnuchin, who argued the plans are “complicated,” but nevertheless will give middle-income Americans a tax cut, while “rich people” will get very little cuts or in some cases get increases.
President Trump would like by Christmas to sign into law a tax overhaul plan, the first in roughly three decades, to get his first major legislative victory.
The GOP-controlled House and Senate have separate plans.
The House last week passed its measure, and the Senate is expected to take a close and final vote on its version after the Thanksgiving holiday. If the measure clears the Senate, lawmakers from the respective chambers will try to negotiate a compromise bill for Trump to sign.
Mnuchin on Sunday also defended against criticism that the administration is more interested in corporate America than voters, considering the Senate plan makes corporate tax cuts permanent while the individual ones would largely expire by 2025.
He said the plan was written to comply with Senate rules to pass such legislation with a simple, 51-vote majority and suggested that corporations need such permanency to create economic growth.
“You can’t switch back in 10 years,” he said.
Mnuchin also said the administration has “a lot of confidence” that Congress will keep the individual cuts.
“Maybe I’ll be working for President Pence at the time,” he said to the argument that the Trump administration, if it wins a second term, would be in office only until 2024.
Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, took heat Wednesday after being photographed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in Washington, holding up the first batch of one-dollar bills with the secretary’s name engraved on them.
Naysayers said he and Linton, in elbow-length black-leather gloves, looked like villains in a James Bond movie.
“I never thought I’d be quoted as looking like villains from the James Bond [movies]. I guess I should take that as a compliment,” Mnuchin said Sunday.
“But let me just say I was very excited about having my signature on the money. It’s obviously a great privilege and a great honor and something I’m very proud of -- being the secretary and helping the American people.”