Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said President Donald Trump’s economic plan is working while also taking a shot at the growing fascination with socialism and anti-capitalism among those on the left.
“The U.S. economy is doing terrific,” Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC. “And as the president talked about last night, his economic plan is working. We’re not going back to socialism. We’re going on an economic plan for America that works.”
“We don’t believe in a centralized planned economy where the government puts restraints on it.”
Mnuchin’s comments came on the heels of the president’s second State of the Union address. Trump also took a shot at the growing tide of socialism, saying “America will never be a socialist country” as lawmakers among the left are proposing more and more socialist ideas like wealth taxes and laws limiting companies from buying back their own stock.
A number of Democrats, including Sens. Charles Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, have doubled down in recent weeks on their calls against income inequality in the U.S. Schumer’s New York Times op-ed with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — a self-described Democratic socialist who caucuses with Democrats — drew criticism from Wall Street for its call to limit corporate share buybacks.
Mnuchin specifically attacked that plan, telling CNBC that he was surprised to see Sen. Schumer attach his name to the article given the Democrat’s long history in New York, where much of the nation’s financial businesses operate.
“Companies need to be able to allocate capital, that’s something that is important to the growth of the U.S. economy,” Mnuchin said. “It’s a fundamental premise that if companies can’t invest the capital productively, they return it to shareholders. That gives shareholders the right to invest in other areas.”
Massachusetts lawmaker Warren proposed a wealth tax on households worth more than $50 million, while freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., suggested a 70 percent tax on earnings above $10 million. Ocasio-Cortez has drawn attention in Washington and on Wall Street for her left-wing politics, despite only being sworn into office last month.
Recent indicators show the U.S. labor market at or near full employment and GDP gains have remained healthy. The unemployment rate ticked higher to 4 percent in January, thought be to due in part to more Americans returning to the workplace.
“We continue to have very strong jobs numbers,” Mnuchin said Wednesday. “I think you’ve just begun to see the beginning to tax reform, I think you’re going to see that kick a lot again.”