Economists and progressive experts responded with exasperation and unease on Friday after President Donald Trump said he will nominate right-wing commentator Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve, the gatekeeper of the nation’s economy.
“The thing that’s so unsettling about Moore for the Fed is that—while we all have our gripes—the Fed remains one of the last highly functional institutions left around here.”
—Jared Bernstein, CBPP
“I will be nominating Mr. Moore for the Fed. You know who I’m talking about,” Trump told reporters while arriving in Florida for the weekend. “He’s going to be great on the Fed.”
Whispers that Moore, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation who advised Trump’s 2016 campaign, might join the central bank had been circulating online since late Thursday. In a tweet on Friday, the president called him “a very respected Economist.”
Concerned economic and political commentators decried Moore as “a famous idiot” who “has proved deeply impervious to facts.”
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Several critics also pointed out that Moore was among the “principal architects of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s massive tax cuts, and their predictions that those tax cuts would spur an ‘immediate’ Kansas economic boom have proved strikingly inaccurate.”
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a progressive think tank, explained in a 2016 blog post, “the Kansas tax cut package has had a deleterious impact on the state’s financial stability and the provision of critical services.” Rather than acknowledging that impact, Moore:
- Substantially backpedaled from the claim that state tax cuts have a “near immediate” positive impact on state economic growth;
- Doubled-down on his tax policy recommendations;
- Used inaccurate data to justify the tax cut; and
- Continued to selectively and misleadingly cite data to support his claim that the tax cut is leading to improved economic performance in Kansas.
Chye-Ching Huang, CBPP’s director of federal fiscal policy, shared the post on Twitter:
As New York Times economic columnist Paul Krugman put it on Friday, linking to the CBPP post, “He made a bad prediction, which happens—but refused to learn from the error, falsified facts, and doubled down on his doctrine.”
Others noted Moore’s support for the tax overhaul Republicans pushed through Congress at the end of 2017, which critics often call the Trump or GOP “tax scam.”
The watchdog group Common Cause, in a series of tweets, detailed Moore’s ties to the Koch Brothers, fossil fuel billionaires infamous for funding right-wing politicians and organizations:
If Moore is confirmed by the GOP-controlled Senate, he will fill one of two current vacancies on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
“The thing that’s so unsettling about Moore for the Fed is that—while we all have our gripes—the Fed remains one of the last highly functional institutions left around here,” tweeted CBPP senior fellow Jared Bernstein. “One misguided pick won’t change that, but it will chip away at it.”
Washington Post economics correspondent Heather Long highlighted that if Moore is approved by lawmakers, he could serve up to 14 years on the board. Long called Moore “Trump’s most political appointment to the Fed yet.”
While it was a bold and blatantly political move, Trump’s nomination of Moore didn’t seem to shock some who have observed the president’s tendency to surround himself with sycophants.
As the Los Angeles Times reported Friday:
Noting that Moore has echoed Trump’s attacks on Powell, Kevin Drum wrote for Mother Jones, “It’s impossible to flatter Donald Trump so much that he figures out what you’re doing, and sure enough, Moore’s willingness to abase himself to Trump’s beliefs has earned him a big promotion.”
Denouncing Moore as a “hack,” Drum said, “This is about like nominating Dr. Phil to run the CDC.”