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Mnuchin says he's not sure a 15% corporate tax rate is achievable

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said today that the White House is hoping tax reform can rally bipartisan support, but "if we can't get 60 votes we're prepared to use reconciliation to get it done... tax reform is Trump's number one priority."

At CNBC's Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference Tuesday morning Mnuchin also said he isn't sure the administration will be able to get the corporate tax rate down to 15%, as President Trump has vowed to do, given budget issues, but said they will get it lower. Meanwhile, he's "incredibly hopeful" they'll pass tax legislation by the end of the year.

Other takeaways:

  • On his relationship with Trump: "I feel comfortable telling him my ideas on things... he doesn't always agree... but I work for him."
  • On CEOs ditching Trump's business councils: "I personally think it was a mistake that the councils were disbanded." A Treasury Department spokesman later emailed Axios to say Mnuchin was referring to CEOs quitting councils due to disagreements, not to President Trump's decision to disband the councils.
  • Trump's debt ceiling deal with Democrats: "I give the president a lot of credit. We were in the middle of two hurricanes, we needed to get money to the states... he got out there and showed the American public we can put politics aside."
  • Hurricanes Harvey and Irma: "There clearly is going to be an impact on GDP in the short run," said Mnuchin, adding that the first round of aid was only a "down payment... we'll see what we need to spend."
  • Fed chair changes: Mnuchin dodged questions over whether Gary Cohn is being considered. Instead said the president hasn't made any decisions, but Janet Yellen "is being considered."
  • Health care reform: "The president still very much wants to get health care done. It's not the major focus at the moment."
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