US Treasury nominee promises lower taxes, sustained 3-4% growth

Washington: The man chosen by the President-elect of the United States to lead the Treasury Department said on Thursday that tax cuts would be the incoming administration's priority and that the goal was to achieve sustained economic growth rates of between 3 to 4 per cent.

Steven Mnuchin made those remarks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, EFE news reported.

The former Chief Information Officer at New York-based investment bank Goldman Sachs, where he worked from 1994 to 2002, said that in striving to achieve those growth rates the biggest and most important priority for Donald Trump's administration would be tax reform, including a reduction in corporate tax rates to keep large companies in the US.

Mnuchin said last year after being tapped for Treasury Secretary that Trump's economic team was working on "the largest tax change since (President Ronald) Reagan" in the 1980s.

The last time the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose by more than 3 per cent in a calendar year was in 2004 and 2005, while in recent years average GDP growth has been around 2 per cent annually.

Trump's economic program includes an aggressive fiscal stimulus plan consisting of increased public spending on infrastructure and defence and tax cuts.

Asked by senators about the impact this programme would have on a US national debt load of nearly $20 trillion, Mnuchin said he and Trump both believe the best way to reduce it is through economic growth.

Mnuchin also defended himself from accusations that he operated a "foreclosure machine" when -- as a private investor -- he led the 2009 acquisition of failed subprime mortgage lender IndyMac from the federal government amid the global recession and then ran the bank, renamed OneWest, for six years.

"In the press it has been said that I ran a 'foreclosure machine.' This is not true. On the contrary, I was committed to loan modifications intended to stop foreclosures. I ran a 'loan modification machine,'" EFE news quoted him as saying in a prepared statement.

"I am proud to be able to say that our bank was able to modify over 100,000 loans thus allowing people the opportunity to remain in their homes. Unfortunately, not all of the homes could be saved through these programmes, and despite my best efforts, some were sadly, subject to foreclosure," he added.

Mnuchin also expressed support for a strong dollar, appreciation of which has caused concern among US exporters, saying the long-term strength of US currency was important.