Tag Archives: Treasury Department

Even rich guys need a government hand, eh?

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is a mega rich fellow. He’s got more cash than he knows what to do with.

So, why does this guy ask the federal government to allow him to use a public airplane to jet him and his wife off on their honeymoon?

I probably shouldn’t even comment on this one. But now that I’ve opened this door, I’ll walk on through for just a moment.

The guy’s chutzpah is quite fascinating, don’t you think?

I mean, Mnuchin is worth about $500 million. That’s half a billion bucks, man! His wife, Louise Linton, got into a Twitter snit with a young woman who took her task after she boasted on social media about all the fashionable labels she wears. Sheesh, lady!

This little dust-up will fade away soon.

But I’ll just note that a government plane that would have jetted Secretary and Mrs. Mnuchin off to wherever they celebrated their marital bliss would have cost about $25,000 per hour.

I know that Donald Trump once said he prefers to surround himself with fellow rich people. He believes their wealth means they’re successful and that their success can transfer to sound public policy.

But, c’mon, Steve Mnuchin. Rich guys can afford to pay for their own jet plane rides to exotic honeymoon locales. Go ahead and show off your success, man … but just do it on your own dime — not mine!

Stay true to plans to put Tubman on the $20 bill

Hold on a second, Steve Mnuchin. Many of us thought the switch from Andrew Jackson to Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill was a done deal.

The U.S. secretary of the Treasury now says he’s thinking about it.

Whoa!

Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew got it done before he left office. He moved to take former President Jackson off the bill and replace it with Harriet Tubman, the heroic abolitionist who fought to end slavery in this country. It was hailed at the time of the announcement as historic for a couple of key reasons.

First, Tubman would be the first woman whose face would adorn U.S. currency. Second, and this arguably is the big one, she is the first African-American.

President Barack Obama signed off on the change. Many Americans cheered the change. Now it appears to be open for discussion.

“The No. 1 issue why we change the currency is to stop counterfeiting. So the issues of what we change will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes. I’ve received classified briefings on that. And that’s what I’m focused on for the most part,” Mnuchin said.

Is it just me or does that sound like he’s possibly tip-toeing around some secret issue?

I do hope Mnuchin isn’t backing away merely because this was an Obama administration initiative, or that the current president is seeking to curry favor with his “base,” which seems to detest anything associated with the name “Barack Obama.”

Tubman’s heroic efforts to end slavery should be honored. Meanwhile, Old Hickory owned slaves. Hmmm. One sought to end enslavement; the other was, well … you know.

Donald Trump offered his usual platitude during the 2016 campaign about Tubman. According to CNBC:

 I think Harrriet Tubman is fantastic.” He added: “I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill or we do another bill.”

While Trump complimented Tubman, he said at the time that he didn’t agree with replacing Jackson on the denomination. “I don’t like seeing it. Yes, I think it’s pure political correctness. Been on the bill [Jackson] for many, many years. And, you know, really represented somebody that really was very important to this country.

If you can figure out what candidate Trump was saying, then you’re far smarter than I am — which likely isn’t saying much.

Back to my original point: Don’t derail this change in the currency, Mr. Secretary. You can figure out the counterfeiting/security angle while staying true to your predecessor’s pledge to  honor a true American hero.

Have we seen enough from Secret Service?

Isn’t the Secret Service supposed to be the elite of the elite? The cream of our national security apparatus? The individuals charged with protecting the Most Powerful Person on the Planet?

What in the name of Homeland Security is going on with these individuals?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/secret-service-agents-disrupted-bomb-investigation-at-white-house/2015/03/12/0eb74590-c8c4-11e4-aa1a-86135599fb0f_story.html

Two more agents have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and taking their vehicle through an active investigation scene involving a bomb.

The Secret Service has a new director who was supposed to turn the agency around after it went through a series of shameful incidents involving disgraceful behavior and serious breaches of security at the White House.

Joseph Clancy hasn’t turned anything around.

The Secret Service used to be run by the Treasury Department. Since 9/11, it’s been handed over to the Department of Homeland Security. Did we hear of these kinds of screw-ups when Treasury was in charge? Maybe once in a while, but not with this kind of chilling regularity.

Any thoughts of returning the Secret Service to the Treasury Department? Well? Are there?

 

What gives with the Secret Service?

Every individual who’s ever run for president of the United States should expect the security detail assigned to guard the first family to be the best in the world at doing that job.

Not “one of the best,” but the very best. The tops. No. 1. The all-time champs.

The revelations about Omar Gonzalez bursting into the White House and then cavorting through the mansion before being caught by a security guard is troubling in the extreme.

Yes, these things have happened before. And yes, given that the Secret Service is populated by fallible human beings, there might be times when even the most secure network on the planet breaks down.

But this is frightening in the extreme?

Some heads needs to roll at the Secret Service.

Are you paying attention here, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, under whose command the Secret Service operates?

Julia Pierson heads the Secret Service. She needs to answer some serious questions about what went wrong. So does the individual who’s in charge of the White House security detail. To date, we aren’t hearing much from these individuals, as they cite an “ongoing investigation” as the reason for their relative silence.

I wouldn’t make so much of this matter, except that the Secret Service in recent years has been caught doing some highly unprofessional things — such as the episode about three years ago when agents were, um, enjoying the company of hookers in South America while doing security advance work for an upcoming presidential visit.

Now this. Omar Gonzalez not only broke through the perimeter but the knife-wielding intruder was able to penetrate deeply into the building.

Failure to secure the house where the first family lives is a disgrace.

Deficit plummets; cheers pending, yes?

Take a look at this report on the state of the current federal budget deficit.

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/188734-deficit-was-680-billion-in-2013

It’s fallen to “only” $680 billion. I know that’s still a lot of money to be in the red. The government should be balanced. It’s not and it doesn’t look as though it’ll reach balance any time soon.

But the link also shows the trend the deficit has taken the past five years. It’s gone down — a lot.

It peaked at $1.4 trillion in 2009, when President Bush handed the keys to the White House to President Obama. It has done down a little each year since. However, at $680 billion, the deficit is down about 51 percent from its high-water mark, which suggests a significant improvement in the nation’s economic performance.

Of course, the cheering has been muted. The political climate in D.C. and in the nation won’t allow the Loyal Opposition to offer a good word on that. They still bemoan the sluggish job growth, the still-too-high unemployment rate (7.2 percent, also down from 10 percent four years ago) and other factors.

Indeed, some folks perhaps are going to suggest the federal budget sequestration — which kicked in automatic budget cuts — deserves some of the credit for the narrowing of the deficit. Maybe so.

I’m inclined to think the government’s stimulus packages had a hand in it as well, putting more people to work, generating more tax revenue for the Treasury and helping the nation inch back toward the balance it achieved in the second term of President Clinton’s administration.

I’m a deficit hawk. I don’t like spending money we don’t have in the bank. As the Treasury Department report notes, though, the deficit also comprises a shrinking percentage of the Gross Domestic Product — which is more good news.

I’m still waiting to hear the applause.