After a tumultuous month, both of President Donald Trump’s picks to the Federal Reserve withdrew their names from consideration. While neither Stephen Moore nor Herman Cain were officially nominated by Trump, their scandals and economic policies generated heaves of controversy, well before they entered what would have been grueling confirmation processes.
With both Moore and Cain out, the president faces new challenges in choosing tested economists who will advocate for his ‘America First’ agenda.
Why Were Stephen Moore and Herman Cain Derailed?
Both men carried serious baggage.
Cain notably ended his 2012 presidential race after sexual misconduct allegations were levied against him. These complaints would undoubtedly have surfaced again during his Senate confirmation hearing—setting the stage for a repeat of the contentious nomination process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Moore, meanwhile, underpaid his ex-wife’s alimony bills for years, and came close to having his home seized after he neglected more than $300,000 in alimony payments. This scandal followed an avalanche of reports documenting the economist’s controversial opinions on the gold standard, women in sports and President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Many Republican senators, including Mitt Romeny (R-Utah) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), were opposed to both potential nominations.
Who Will Trump Pick Now?
One thing Moore and Cain have in common is their loyalty to the president. Although Moore previously called Trump’s immigration policies an “extreme nativist” platform during the 2016 election, he published the congratulatory book Trumponomics and took on the role of a pitbull on cable news programs to defend the administration’s economic policies.
Cain runs a political group, “America Fighting Back PAC,” which raised $347,000 in the most recent election cycle for Trump’s 2020 efforts.
Both men are also known for their support of low interest rates and other unconventional economic policies (fondness for the gold standard, for instance). Trump’s next picks for the Federal Reserve are likely to include similar attributes, though they will have to do a better job at articulating their visions for the economy.
“The two vacancies on the Board give President Trump a good opportunity to influence the Federal Reserve,” Donald Kohn, the Federal Reserve’s former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors, told Observer. “Whoever he appoints will need to persuade other Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members that his or her approach to policy will better achieve the Fed’s legislated mandates for price stability and maximum employment. That will take convincing economic analysis backed by facts and research. So his appointees need to have a record of doing that sort of analysis, without regard to the prevailing political situation. And, of course, they will need to lack disqualifying personal characteristics, like misogyny.”
One name being floated by conservative columnists is Judy Shelton, who has reportedly expressed interest in the post. Like Moore, Shelton is an alumnus of the president’s 2016 campaign, and has advocated for a gold standard.
“An excellent replacement for Mr. Cain would be economist Judy Shelton, who would bring intellectual diversity and heft without political baggage,” wrote The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board in an endorsement last month. “Ms. Shelton on Monday pushed back in an op-ed for the Journal against the left’s recent claims that ‘anyone sympathetic to a gold standard’ is unqualified. She’s right that ‘stable money is a prerequisite for genuine economic growth and shared prosperity.'”
Bloomberg reported that Craig Phillips, the counselor to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who previously served as managing director of BlackRock, is also interested in the post.
Frequent Fox News guest Andrew Puzder seems like an obvious choice given Trump’s propensity for cable news talent. Like Moore, Puzder has published president friendly cannon—the economist’s The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Destroy It was released just last month. POLITICO reported last January that the White House was trying to find a role for him in the administration. Puzder has his own baggage, however, and was forced to withdraw his name from consideration for Labor Secretary after decades-old allegations of domestic violence surfaced from his ex-wife—who has since recanted the accusations.