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You’re Hired!

New Faces in the Trump Administration

Russell McIntyre    |    Housing Policy

The catchphrase “You’re Fired!” was made popular on President-elect Donald Trump’s reality television show The Apprentice, and in many ways it is still synonymous with both the show and the Trump brand. These days however, President-elect Trump is more concerned with who is being hired.

When a new president moves to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he brings a flood of new employees ready to fill out the more than nine thousand available jobs in his administration. Only a handful of these garner attention outside the Beltway; namely the presidential Cabinet appointees, judicial appointments, and independent agency leaders. A few positions in particular are of interest to CoreLogic and our clients, and many have nominees awaiting confirmation.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – Ben Carson
President-elect Trump has nominated retired neurosurgeon and 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Dr. Carson grew up in subsidized housing in inner-city Detroit, attended Yale University and then medical school before becoming the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. While serving as a successful neurosurgeon is not the normal resume for the Secretary of HUD, Dr. Carson likes to cite his formative years growing up in Detroit: “I grew up in an inner city and have spent a lot of time there, and have dealt with a lot of patients in that area, and recognize that we cannot have a strong nation if we have weak inner cities.” Despite being a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient with many achievements, Dr. Carson is not the first cabinet secretary to come under criticism for not having the “right resume.” This, plus some of his past statements regarding fair housing laws and the Section 8 program, will likely be a point of focus for some U.S. senators during Dr. Carson’s confirmation hearing.

Secretary of the Treasury – Steve Mnuchin
President-elect Trump has nominated former investment banker and hedge fund investor Steve Mnuchin to head the Department of the Treasury. Upon graduation from Yale University, Mr. Mnuchin followed in his father’s footsteps at Goldman Sachs, where he founded their mortgage securities department and served on the firm’s Executive Committee. After leaving Goldman Sachs, he founded his own hedge fund company, Dune Capital Management, which has been very successful in providing financing to the movie production industry, backing films that have garnered numerous Academy Awards. Mnuchin brings to the table an extensive resume in finance, banking and business. That said, one of the most likely concerns raised by critics will center on his management of OneWest Bank, formerly known as IndyMac, which, prior to Mnuchin’s ownership, was one of the nation’s leading subprime home loan lenders before failing during the housing crisis. After the crisis, Mnuchin bought the company and renamed it, but ultimately faced criticism for overseeing a large number of foreclosures (arising out of lending practices that preceded his ownership) and unconfirmed allegations of discrimination against minority homebuyers.

Chair of the National Economic Council – Gary Cohn
President-elect Trump has named Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to head his White House National Economic Council (NEC), tasked with coordinating policy-making for domestic and international economic issues, coordinating economic policy advice for the President, and monitoring implementation of the President's economic policy agenda. Cohn is widely viewed as a self-made man, born into the middle class before climbing the ranks of Goldman Sachs. An odd coalition has formed to oppose Cohn however –opponents on the left have combined with hardline Trump supporters on the right, claiming this selection is opposed to candidate Trump’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.”

Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors – Larry Kudlow
Economic commentator Larry Kudlow is the leading candidate to head the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) in the Trump administration. Kudlow worked as a budget official in the Reagan White House, after which he became a successful chief economist at Bear Stearns. For the past fifteen years, he has appeared on CNBC as a regular host and commentator. Partisan opponents of Mr. Kudlow’s will point to some of his mistaken predictions leading up to the housing crisis; however, he is widely respected amongst conservative circles and his appointment does not require Congressional approval. The CEA is officially charged with “offering the President objective economic advice on the formulation of both domestic and international economic policy.”

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