WASHINGTON (AP) – Conservative commentator Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Federal Reserve, withdrew from consideration Thursday after losing Republican support in the Senate, largely over his past writings about women.
Trump tweeted the news, calling Moore “a great pro-growth economist and a truly fine person.”
Numerous GOP senators said they objected to Moore’s disparaging past writings about women or sidestepped questions about whether they would back Moore. Moore has said he regretted the writings and said they were meant as humor columns.
Moore was an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign and helped design the 2017 tax cuts.
Moore’s candidacy immediately met widespread skepticism about his qualifications for the Fed and concerns about his background as a highly political commentator on economic issues.
He had called for the Fed to raise interest rates in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, when the central bank and other agencies were cutting rates or taking emergency actions to help resuscitate the economy and the banking system. After Trump’s election, Moore reversed course and argued for rate cuts even though the economy was much healthier by then.
After Trump named Moore as a potential nominee in late March, Gregory Mankiw, a Harvard professor who was a top adviser to President George W. Bush, observed that Moore “does not have the intellectual gravitas for this important job” and urged the Senate to keep him off the Fed.
Moore has argued that the Fed should follow changes in the prices of commodities, such as oil or farm goods, and raise rates if those prices rose, to stem inflation. Yet that approach would have caused the Fed to raise rates in 2008 as oil prices spiked, which would have worsened the Great Recession.
A conservative commentator for more than two decades, including for the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Moore is now a visiting fellow at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation. He was also an adviser to the Trump presidential campaign and helped design the 2017 tax cuts. He later co-wrote “Trumponomics,” a book touting the president’s policies.
Trump’s other Fed board pick, Herman Cain, withdrew over past allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity.