President-elect Donald Trump is stocking his administration with businessmen and regulatory reformers who are intent on cutting through what they see as red tape from Washington.
Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor, will oversee the Trump administration’s regulatory reform efforts. He will be joined by several other Wall Street investors and corporate executives who have first-hand experience dealing with government rules.
Here are six figures in the Trump administration poised to have an outsized role in scaling back regulations.
Regulatory adviser Carl Icahn
Trump created a new position in the White House for the billionaire investor to serve as a “special adviser on regulatory issues,” where he will seek to trim back rules that businesses consider unnecessary and burdensome.
“Under President Obama, America’s business owners have been crippled by over $1 trillion in new regulations,” Icahn said in a statement issued by the Trump transition team. “It’s time to break free of excessive regulation and let our entrepreneurs do what they do best: create jobs and support communities.”
Icahn, 80, is the founder of Icahn Enterprises, and has become known over the years as an activist shareholder.
Trump, who has done deals with Icahn in the past, called him “one of the world’s great businessmen.”
“His help on the strangling regulations that our country is faced with will be invaluable,” Trump said in a statement.
Icahn, who holds a majority stake in CVR Energy and has also invested in several other oil and gas companies, has been a particularly vocal critic of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama administration.
Icahn has already advised the president-elect on several key appointments, including Steve Mnuchin to the Treasury Department, Wilbur Ross to the Commerce Department, and Scott Pruitt to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to The Wall Street Journal.
He is also expected to hold sway over Trump’s choice for a new chairman for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross
Ross once helped save Trump’s casino business.
The Wall Street banker built a career by investing in distressed companies and turning them around. In the 1990s, Ross and Icahn helped finance the president-elect’s Taj Mahal casino as bondholders. When the casino ran into trouble, the two men could have foreclosed, but instead negotiated with Trump to keep the business afloat.
“We could have foreclosed [on the Trump Taj Mahal], and he would have been gone,” Ross told The New York Post last month.
Trump on Nov. 30 tapped Ross to lead to the Commerce Department on Nov. 30. In that role, he will have a major role in shaping U.S. trade policy, including import and export regulations that companies must comply with.
Both Trump and Ross have taken a hard line against trade deals, saying many of them have hurt American jobs.
Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin
Mnuchin’s portfolio stretches from Wall Street to Hollywood. He spent the better half of two decades as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, before becoming a hedge fund manager. At the height of the financial crisis in 2009, Mnuchin purchased a failed mortgage lender that he renamed OneWest Bank.
During his time on Wall Street, Mnuchin butted heads with Trump on a business deal. Dune Capital Management, the hedge fund Mnuchin created after leaving Goldman Sachs, helped finance the construction of Trump hotels in Chicago and Honolulu. But Trump sued multiple lenders, including Mnuchin’s company, over a disagreement with the Chicago deal. The case was eventually settled. up.
The two men have since become close allies. Mnuchin served as Trump’s national finance chairman during the campaign, a critical role where he helped the businessman quickly construct a fundraising machine.
Trump nominated Mnuchin, who is also a member of the president-elect’s transition team, to serve as Treasury secretary on Nov. 30. In the role, Mnuchin will lead the charge against the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
“We want to strip back parts of Dodd-Frank that prevent banks from lending, and that will be the number one priority on the regulatory side,” Mnuchin told CNBC.
Trump and his appointees cannot completely roll back Dodd-Frank without action from Congress, but they will have significant power to change how it is enforced through regulations.
Mnuchin has been particularly critical of the Volcker rule, which prevents large banks from engaging in speculative trading.
Health secretary nominee Tom Price
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a doctor, will play a key role in the Republican push to scale back ObamaCare.
Republicans plan to pass an ObamaCare repeal bill early in 2017, jumpstarting the process.
As secretary of Health and Human Services, Price will have a chance to reshape the slew of new healthcare regulations that were issued under President Obama. With help from Congress, some of the rules could be eliminated entirely.
EPA administrator nominee Scott Pruitt
As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt led the charge against the Obama administration’s climate agenda. Now, Pruitt will be tasked with changing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from the inside out.
Trump tapped Pruitt to lead the EPA on Dec. 7, putting him in a position to dismantle many of the EPA’s most controversial actions under Obama.
Some of the regulations that could be on the chopping block include the EPA’s rules for power plants, water, ozone, and fuel economy. But changing any of those rules are likely to set off a major court battle with environmentalists that could rage for years.
Labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder
Trump’s Labor nominee is a long-time restaurant executive. As the head of CKE Restaurants, he runs popular fast-food chains like Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.
Puzder is opposed to raising the minimum wage, and has also criticized the Labor Department’s policies on overtime and paid sick leave under Obama.
The Labor Department is pushing to expand overtime pay to another 4 million workers. Currently, many employees who make more than $23,660 in a year are not eligible to be paid time and a half when they work more than 40 hours in a week.
But the Obama administration raised the threshold to $47,476 per year. The overtime rule is on hold due to a court challenge.
Republicans say the overtime rule could lead to reduced hours for low-wage workers and fewer opportunities to grow within the company, raising the likelihood that the Trump administration will decline to defend the rule in court, potentially killing it.
“Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve,” Trump said in a statement, “and he will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages.”
SOURCE: TIM DEVANEY