Trump may usher in 'most consequential' tax policy year since WWII, ex-Romney advisor says

Republican control of the White House and Capitol Hill could result in one of the most influential years ever for tax reform, economist Kevin Hassett told CNBC on Friday.

"We might be about to have the most consequential tax policy year since the Second World War," said Hassett, former advisor to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Hassett said on "Squawk Box" the tax blueprint devised by House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady — which promises across-the-board tax cuts, massive economic growth and a new tax structure for U.S. trade without blowing out the country's deficit — could become law under a President Donald Trump.

"If I run the numbers, I think the dollar's 20 percent stronger. I think you have a wave of inversions because foreign companies want to have their headquarters in the U.S. It's a really, really big change," said Hassett, an ex-Fed economist who is director of domestic policy research at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think-tank.

"I don't think that markets have really digested how close we might be to having something that big happen," he added. "People in markets need to really start to look at this [Ryan-Brady] tax bill."

What comes first, however, is the president-elect's choice for secretary of the treasury, who will serve as the federal government's direct connection to Wall Street and a source of information on how markets react to economic policies.

Ed Lazear, who was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, told CNBC on Friday that a good model for choosing a treasury chief is sticking to financial leaders from the private sector.

"You want someone who knows what's going on on the Street. You want someone who's very closely connected to the capital markets," Lazear told "Squawk Box." "I think that's better, generally, than using a political person [like] someone who's been in Congress."

He said there are some "very fine candidates" in Congress for the job, but their lack of connections with Wall Street institutions could hinder progress.

Before Trump and his appointed secretaries take office, a major uncertainty facing the Street is that of interest rates, which Lazear said have been too low for too long.

"I think we're all in some sense regretting that we're in this position right now where the Fed is so far behind the curve," Lazear said.

He called the current economic situation — near-zero rates when the business cycle is reaching its peak — "completely backwards" and "out of sync," saying that everybody watching the Federal Reserve, including its chair, Janet Yellen, likely wishes the situation were different.

"I would be very surprised if the Fed doesn't aggressively move to get interest rates back to a more normal position and do it pretty soon," Lazear said.

Even so, Lazear said it was important for the president to respect the Fed's independence, citing his own time in government as an example.

"When I served at the White House, we were very cautious to make sure that we didn't step on the toes of Fed, and that was a time when interaction between the Fed and the White House and the treasury was much more important because we were in the middle of a financial crisis," he said.

During his presidential campaign, Trump suggested he would replace Yellen if he became president. On Thursday, Yellen told a Joint Economic hearing on Capitol Hill that she would not step down despite the president-elect's criticism.

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