Critics have portrayed Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as, ahem, a bit out of touch with the majority of Americans. This may have to do with his extreme wealth, his long career at Goldman Sachs, his inaction on the Sears board of directors as the famous retailer was picked clean and driven to bankruptcy, his glamour shots posing with money, his request of a military jet for his honeymoon or, of all things, the use of a government plane to watch a solar eclipse from Fort Knox.
But we may not have fully appreciated the extent of the problem. Mnuchin’s team at the Treasury Department, notes Politico, consists almost exclusively of other rich white guys.
Out of roughly 20 officials who routinely attend senior staff meetings led by Mnuchin, only three are women and one is a person of color. In fiscal year 2018, the hiring of minorities at Treasury fell to its lowest pace in five years, according to the department’s own statistics, while the number of women and minorities leaving the agency outpaced their hiring.
Treasury has fewer policy disagreements these days, said one former official, because the top decision-makers are overwhelmingly white, male and wealthy.
Well that’s one way to reduce policy “disagreements”; homogenize leadership into something resembling a private Wall Street club and call it done. Politico cites “current and former” administration officials as saying Mnuchin himself is responsible for the shift, asserting a dominant hiring role and filling top Treasury jobs with fellow New York financial executives. The result has been a Treasury in which Mnuchin “tends to surround himself with an all-male posse” and which is seen as not particularly welcoming to anyone who does not personally own at least three humidors.
Is this a problem? Not if you’re a rich white male Wall Street executive—the Mnuchin team will have your back, and your front, and probably your home number on speed-dial. It would only be a problem if the United States contained other human beings and industries other than high finance. This is a theory of which Treasury executives are well aware, but which remains, at present, an unprovable claim.