Moore Withdraws From Consideration for Fed Post

(Reuters) -
Stephen Moore. (Gage Skidmore)

President Donald Trump’s pick to fill a seat on the Federal Reserve has withdrawn from consideration after weeks of criticism against economic commentator Stephen Moore’s shifting views on interest rate policy.

“Steve Moore, a great pro-growth economist and a truly fine person, has decided to withdraw from the Fed process,” Trump said on Twitter on Thursday. “Steve won the battle of ideas including Tax Cuts …. and deregulation which have produced non-inflationary prosperity for all Americans. I’ve asked Steve to work with me toward future economic growth in our Country.”

Earlier Thursday, Moore had told Bloomberg Media that he was “all in” and that he expected to be nominated within three weeks.

Moore, 59, was picked by Trump in March to fill one of two vacant positions at the Fed, but had not been formally nominated. Trump’s other pick for the Fed, businessman Herman Cain, withdrew from consideration in mid-April after lawmakers expressed discomfort with allegations that short-circuited Cain’s presidential bid in 2012. Cain has denied those allegations.

Moore, for his part, had said that his credentials as an economist should win him needed support from Senators. On Thursday, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey agreed, saying he was “inclined to support” Moore’s nomination.

But in a letter of resignation, tweeted by a New York Times White House reporter, Moore said the toll the scrutiny was taking on his family made continuing the process “untenable.” Moore didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

At the Fed, Moore would have had a permanent vote on setting interest rates for at least five years and as many as 11 years, depending on which of two vacant posts he would have occupied.

Moore’s loyalty to Trump worried some lawmakers, concerned that his partisanship could threaten the Fed’s independence, seen as critical to the U.S. central bank’s ability to conduct policy effectively.

A fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation whose past jobs include writing editorials for the Wall Street Journal and policy pieces for the libertarian Cato Institute, Moore has a long track record of supporting Republican causes, chief among them tax cuts. In 1999 he founded the Club for Growth to raise money for likeminded politicians, and ran it until 2004.

Moore said less about monetary policy than fiscal policy over the years, and his views have been less consistent. As recently as September 2015 he called for eliminating the U.S. central bank and removing then-Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who he said was keeping money too easy.

More recently, Moore called for the firing of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell after the central bank raised interest rates in December and, like Trump, he has called for rate cuts this year.

Democrats hailed the withdrawal.