Yet again President Donald Trump has named someone to a top government post based on a commitment to toe the Republican line—and more specifically, to echo Donald Trump—rather than on sound policy goals.
On Friday, Trump picked his former campaign adviser and CNN commentator Stephen Moore to fill a seat on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors. Since then, it’s been difficult to find an actual expert in economics who thinks it’s a solid move.
Trump reportedly chose Moore, who was an economic pundit at Fox News before CNN recruited him, after the president was shown a March 13 op-ed Moore co-authored for The Wall Street Journal that echoed Trump’s criticisms of the Fed’s monetary policies, the Journal reported.
Trump has repeatedly criticized Fed Chairman Jerome Powell over interest-rate hikes by the central bank last year.
“The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch - he can’t putt!” Trump tweeted in December.
The same month, Moore said in an interview with the Journal that Powell should resign. “He’s totally incompetent,” Moore said. “If he’s not responsive to the president, then who’s he responsive to?”
A book Moore co-authored with fellow Trump campaign adviser Arthur Laffer, called Trumponomics, was “over-the-top” in its “enthusiasm for U.S. President Donald Trump’s sketchy economic agenda,” Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw wrote.
…Moore and Laffer apparently learned the importance of flattering the boss. In the first chapter alone, they tell us that Trump is a “gifted orator” who is always “dressed immaculately.” He is “shrewd,” “open-minded,” “no-nonsense,” and “bigger than life.” He is a “commonsense conservative” who welcomes “honest and fair-minded policy debates.” He is the “Mick Jagger of politics” with a contagious “enthusiasm and can-doism.”
Trump apparently was pleased, nominating Moore for a position that’s supposed to maintain a nonpartisan approach to policy. And the president, once again, has selected someone who hasn’t been thoroughly vetted, although he will need Senate confirmation.
Bloomberg reported the potential consequences of Trump’s pick:
Under the threat of constant second-guessing by the president, and potentially soon working with a Trump cheerleader inside the building, Fed officials may find it increasingly difficult to stay focused on keeping the institution at a distance from politics. That’s important because investors who purchase U.S. Treasuries trust the Fed to ignore the wishes of politicians and do what it thinks is best for the economy in the long run.
Some critics were a bit more direct:
Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, added that Moore “is the latest in a long line of TV news pundits to catch the president’s eye and garner a nomination to a powerful federal post.” He noted that Moore was a harsh critic of the Obama administration, calling at the time for tight monetary policy. Yet with Trump in office, Moore now has the opposite opinion and is calling for loose monetary policy, citing nonexistent deflation. This cherry-picking of facts seems to be a trend with Moore, who also is a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
In making the announcement (on Twitter, of course), Trump called Moore “a very respected economist.”
Others strongly disagreed:
Reading between the lines, several observers already have pointed out that Trump’s move likely was made with a view to claiming a strong economy, at least on cable news shows, heading into the 2020 presidential election. It’s part of his “win at all costs” strategy to get re-elected.
That’s one way of putting it.
Here’s Moore in December 2017, arguing in favor of the Republican tax scam for corporations and billionaires. Moore said the plan would help middle-income Americans and small businesses: