An economist whose policies have helped revive the U.S. economy, drive unemployment to record lows among minorities, and contributed to a long-awaited jump in wages might expect a pat on the back if not a ticker-tape parade.
But it seems economist Stephen Moore has been rewarded with a target on his back, supporters say.
The dust had barely settled Friday after a tweet from President Trump announcing his intention to nominate Moore to serve on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors when the incoming fire began.
Beltway opposition researchers went to work, and news of a $75,000 tax debt from 2014 soon surfaced. But according to Moore, 59, the tax debt is actually a tax dispute, and he has been trying to negotiate a settlement.
Another objection: Despite a lifelong career in economics and a stint on the joint economic committee of Congress, Moore is not a card-carrying Ph.D.
That fact apparently prompted Harvard University economics professor Greg Mankiw to complain to The Guardian that Moore “does not have the intellectual gravitas” to serve on the Fed Board.
No one seems to care, however, current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell does not have a Ph.D. either.
Along with supply side guru Art Laffer and longtime CNBC host and director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, Moore was one of the architects who designed the Trump tax cuts. Some conservative economists and members of Congress credit those reforms with finally nudging the economy out its post-Great Recession doldrums.
A few of Moore’s career highlights:
But Moore’s accomplishments do not seem to count, supporters say, because he is not a “card-carrying member of the Beltway establishment,” as Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., recently put it.
John Fund of the National Review, author of a recent column defending the Moore nomination, tells Newsmax the real objection to the conservative economist has nothing to do with his credentials.
“Remember,” Fund says, “Trump appointed him. Therefore he is by definition illegitimate and highly political.”
Fund notes, as a member of the Fed’s Board, Moore would be one of 12 members of the Federal Open Market Committee, the group that establishes U.S. monetary policy and the interest rate paid by the banks.
Fund finds it risible the D.C. establishment would fear a lone supply-side voice would somehow compromise the Committee’s vaunted independence.
“They can’t have heretics in the temple,” he quips. “Heretics will cause people to lose faith in the magical powers of the Fed.”
To Fed watchers and academics who worry Moore is too close to Trump and would wield an undue influence, Fund remarks: “It’s astonishing that they’re so insecure.”
For months, President Trump has complained the Fed’s rate hikes were throttling the recovery. The Committee recently dropped its plans for two interest rate hikes this year, suggesting it might have overestimated the strength of the U.S. economy.
Like Trump, Moore has made no secret he also believes the Fed’s monetary policy has been way too tight. He told The New York Times on Tuesday he would like to see interest rates cut by half a point. Critics jumped in to say his “radical” proposal would rattle the markets.
Conservatives are already rallying to defend Moore’s pro-growth record in a bid to push his confirmation through the Senate. According to Fund, Moore’s roster of big-name advocates include former presidential contender Steve Forbes, Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey, former Fed governor Manley Johnson, former two-time runner-up to serve as Fed Chairman John Taylor, economist Judy Shelton, and chief of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons.
Fund predicts the battle over Moore’s Senate confirmation is just getting started.
“It’s going to get vicious,” he says. “They’re going to accuse him of being fired from The Wall Street Journal, they’re going to accuse him of tax crimes, they’re going to accuse him of divorce-proceeding issues. I mean, it’s not going to be pretty, and I’ve already gotten calls on that today.
“So, the level of attack has just begun, what you’re seeing are just the opening skirmishes.”
The affable Moore, however, seems undaunted by the no-holds-barred opposition.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve my country with distinction by being nominated for the Federal Reserve Board,” he said in a Wednesday statement, adding, “and I am ready to move forward with confirmation.”