Choosing inexperienced cronies for positions of influence and power is a running theme with “President” Donald Trump. Choosing the inexperienced Patrick Shanahan to the position of acting Secretary of Defense is bad enough, but his nomination of Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve Board is completely disgraceful. As described by Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times, Stephen Moore is no expert, and would instead be a “loyalist” to Donald Trump, as Moore shares Trump’s “love of low interest rates.”
Trump has repeatedly tweeted his dislike for the way that things are going at the Federal Reserve Board. He has publicly threatened and insulted Jerome Powell, the Chair, for not bending to his will, and he blames Powell for “smothering economic growth” by raising interest rates. The Federal Reserve studies the market and raises or lowers interest rates to achieve certain outcomes. If growth needs to be boosted, the Board drops the interest rate to encourage purchasing and borrowing. Alternatively, if growth occurs too quickly, the Board increases the rate to discourage consumers from taking on new credit.
One of the best examples of how this works occurred following the Great Recession (caused by ill-advised policies of the Bush administration), the Feds dropped the rate to zero to encourage buying. Even as Trump touted the “great economy” throughout 2018 (which we all know he inherited from President Obama), the Feds increased the interest rate three times to slow growth. This angered Trump to no end. Because he is unable to control Powell, he wants to put his lackey Moore on the board to directly battle Powell. Trump, again, has no clue how all of this works. Most of his appointments speak to his narcissism, and Moore fits right into that scheme.
As an “expert” on the Federal Reserve board, Moore would resemble a broken shutter: He would wave in the breeze depending on what Trump wants. My belief is supported by Mr. Appelbaum, who says that Moore’s “record is best characterized as inconsistent with any particular set of economic principles, but reliably faithful to the short-term interest of the Republican Party.” That’s exactly what we need in this position, right? I don’t think so. Appelbaum shows an example of Moore’s policies during the Obama administration, when he claimed that “zero interest rates haven’t helped the economy.” After Trump was elected, he reversed this to “insist that lower interest rates were just what the economy needed.” How can you trust someone like this? His “advice” is going to change based on who occupies the presidency, making him far from a useful “advisor” of any type with respect to growth and the economy.
As if his positions aren’t enough to disqualify Moore from the Board, the New York Times reported last week that he has $75,000 in unpaid federal taxes, interest, and penalties due to non-payment, and the IRS has a lien against him. His failure to pay is based on his erroneous belief that child support is tax deductible. And this is a man we need on the Federal Reserve Board? Again, I don’t think so.
Donald Trump doesn’t choose people based on qualifications. We all know that by now. He chooses based on who he thinks will be loyal to him, regardless of their suitability, and despite the fact that he’s never loyal to them in return. In that respect, we can certainly understand why he would choose someone like Stephen Moore. Luckily, he’s going to have to get past Congress, which, given his history and his unpaid taxes, may not happen.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years