President Obama has announced that he will appoint Michael Mundaca as the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for tax policy during the congressional recess, citing “months of Republican obstruction to administration nominees” as the reason for bypassing the Senate.
Obama said Saturday he also will appoint Jeffrey Goldstein as undersecretary for domestic finance at the Treasury.
Mundaca was first nominated to the Treasury tax policy post on Oct. 6, and has been the acting assistant secretary for over a year. Though his nomination did not attract significant controversy from either side of the aisle, it had languished before the Senate, preventing him from officially receiving the title.
“At a time of economic emergency, two top appointees to the Department of Treasury have been held up,” Obama said in a release issued Saturday.
Typically, presidential nominees must be confirmed by the Senate, but the president has the ability to appoint them to posts when the Senate is in recess. To remain in those posts, the Senate must confirm them before the end of the next congressional session. The Senate recessed on Friday and will return to work April 12. Mundaca and Goldstein were only two of 15 recess appointments announced by the president.
But the move received some blowback from Senate Republicans. Finance Committee ranking minority member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the president’s move “shows a lot of disregard for the Senate’s advise-and-consent role to bypass not just the full Senate but also the committee of jurisdiction that was in the middle of vetting the nominees in its jurisdiction.”
The president defended his decision by pointing out that 217 of his nominees have been pending for an average of 101 days and that the 15 he is appointing during the recess have been pending for an average of 214 days.
Mundaca had served as senior adviser for policy within the Treasury’s office of tax policy, in addition to the acting assistant secretary post. He also was deputy assistant secretary for international tax affairs. Mundaca served under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in the Treasury from 1995 to 2002, handling international tax and electronic commerce matters.
In between Treasury stints, he was a partner with Ernst & Young LLP here. He received an LL.M. in taxation from the University of Miami and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and physics from Columbia University.
Goldstein, who has been serving as counselor to the secretary of the Treasury, is a former managing director of private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC. From 1999 to 2004, he was managing director and chief financial officer at the World Bank.
He has taught economics at Princeton University and worked at the Brookings Institution and Treasury Department. He received his Ph.D., master of philosophy and master’s degrees in economics from Yale University, and received a bachelor’s degree with honors in economics from Vassar College. He also attended the London School of Economics.