WASHINGTON—During a Senate Finance Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), highlighted the Louisiana workers benefiting from the tax cuts legislation he helped pass in December. He also questioned U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about efforts to combat money laundering, pointing to estimates indicating the U.S. intercepts less than seven percent of funds moved across the border illicitly.
A partial transcript of Cassidy’s remarks is below.
ON BIGGER PAYCHECKS AND BETTER BENEFITS FOR LOUISIANA WORKERS
CASSIDY: I’ll add to the comments on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It’s working in Louisiana. Louisiana-based companies like Builder Supply Company in Shreveport, Iberia Bank based in Lafayette, Gulf Coast Bank in New Orleans, as well as big-box stores like Home Depot, Walmart, Best Buy, they’re giving bonuses, better wages, better benefits, all benefitting on the long-term capital investment. Exxon Mobil with a major presence in Louisiana, announced $35 billion in CapEx investment that’s going to increase competition for workers, driving up their wages. That is the way to reduce income inequality. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill has been good for our state … and I’m proud to have participated.
ON COMBATING MONEY LAUNDERING
CASSIDY: In my office, we’re looking at how the drug cartels transfer $110 billion per year from the United States down to [Mexico]. Best we can tell, Treasury’s getting about $7 billion of it and we know it’s going through bulk cash, it’s going through trade-based money laundering, it’s going through people buying cards that have $10,000 on them and they’re bringing down another form of bulk cash, if you will. We’re not sure though that the interdepartmental cooperation is very good. It’s been a little difficult to find out, but it seems like we have one department doing this, another that, another this, but the departments are not doing it in concert. Clearly this is important, and it’s a way to get at the cartels. Frankly, I’d like to use that money to pay for the wall. It wouldn’t be the Mexican government, it’d be the Mexican cartels, but you’d take out their ability to finance their crime mission. Any comments on the effectiveness of our different departments working together?
MNUCHIN: From my experience senator, I actually think the departments are working very well together, but on this specific issue, we look forward to following up with you. It is a very important issue, and we want to do everything we can to get the money from the cartels.
CASSIDY: Now, it seems though just kind of prima facie, if you will, you’ve got $110 billion also reportedly moving south, and Treasury is only getting $7 billion of it. That seems to be a big gap, so we would like to continue to work with you on this because $7 billion is just, you know, what you might lose in the back of your couch if you’re worth $110 billion per year, and we need to grab that.