Mar 24, 2017

Takeaways from Steve Mnuchin's Axios interview

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

Greetings from Washington, D.C., where my Axios colleague Mike Allen just finished up an on-stage interview with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Takeaways:

  • Carry: Carried interest tax treatment will be changed in the White House tax plan, at least for "hedge funds" When it comes to other asset classes, including real estate, no promises were made.
  • Mnuchin vs. Trump rhetoric: The Treasury Sec declined to commit to the 15% corporate tax rate that Trump preached on the campaign trail. He also talked about 3%-3.5% GDP growth, versus Trump's talk of 4%.
  • Techmeme weeps: Mnuchin breezily dismissed the notion that AI and machine learning will soon replace wide swaths of workers, saying that "it's not even on our radar screen" because it's an issue that is "50 or 100 years" away.
  • Trade: "So long as we can renegotiate deals that are good for us, we won't be protectionist. Otherwise we will."
  • Taxes: Tax reform is "a lot simpler" than healthcare reform. He still plans to get it done by the August recess, and it will be comprehensive (i.e., not breaking it up into more passable pieces). As for going after healthcare, Mnuchin says the past two months of planning were necessary. "We would not have been ready to go a month ago on tax reform and now we are."
  • BAT: Mnuchin punted when asked to make the pro-BAT argument to a Wal-Mart shopper, but did say that he doesn't expect to introduce it "as is."
  • Silicon Valley: "I don't understand these valuations."
  • Movie producer hat: "Hollywood could learn a lot more from D.C. than D.C. could learn from Hollywood."
  • Worries: Mnuchin says that cybersecurity is his biggest in-house focus, and that his meetings with foreign leaders have dealt heavily with issues like money laundering and other illicit activities.
  • Debt limit: "We need to raise the debt limit and that's something we're going to do."
  • Bottom line: "I am a bull. Buy American."

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