Financials took a swing higher on Tuesday, Sept. 12, as U.S. tax reform again became a focus. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin amped up expectations of tax reform before the year is out on Tuesday morning, even bringing up the possibility of backdating changes to Jan. 1.

At a CNBC "Delivering Alpha" event, Mnuchin said the Trump White House was "super focused" on reform, particularly now that a deal to fund the government through December was made last week.

However, Mnuchin did back off Donald Trump's pledge of a decrease in the corporate tax rate to 15% and said it may not be able to be achieved "given the budget issue."

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, Trump gave a rough outline of his vision for tax reform and called on Congress to act. In a speech in Missouri, Trump said he wanted to reduce the "crushing" tax burden by "fundamentally [reforming]" a confusing tax code. Among the few details listed, he again said he wanted to cut the corporate tax rate to 15% from 35%.

The tax cut would be part of four main goals the president said should be included in a tax overhaul: simplifying the tax code, making it more competitive with tax regimes in other countries, providing tax relief for middle-class families and encouraging U.S. companies to bring back trillions of dollars in profits "parked overseas."

Major banks including Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) - Get Report , Bank of America Corp. (BAC) - Get Report , Citigroup Inc. (C) - Get Report , Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) - Get Report  and U.S. Bancorp (USB) - Get Report were all higher on Tuesday. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) - Get Report increased 0.8%. 

Citigroup is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells C? Learn more now.

The financials ETF has risen more than 6% year to date, not quite keeping up the overall S&P 500's nearly 10% rise. 

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