SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Despite new criticism from top Democrats for comments denigrating women and the Midwest, economic commentator Stephen Moore still has the backing of U.S. President Donald Trump for a seat at the Federal Reserve Board.
“Steve Moore is in,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Fox Business Network, adding that once the vetting process is complete, and “if it looks good,” he will be formally nominated.
“We stand completely behind him,” Kudlow said. “I think he would give us a breath of fresh air on the Fed.”
As a Fed governor, Moore would have a say on setting interest rates for the world’s biggest economy.
Republican Senators, whose 53 to 47 majority gives them the final say on whether Moore’s promised nomination is confirmed, have not weighed in since news surfaced this week documenting Moore’s long history of sexist remarks, some of which he says were made jokingly and some of which he said Wednesday he regrets.
Some economists and Democratic lawmakers have questioned his competence, citing his support for tying policy decisions to commodity prices and his fluctuating views on rates. This week it is his comments about gender and geography that are drawing criticism.
“What are the implications of a society in which women earn more than men? We don’t really know, but it could be disruptive to family stability,” Moore wrote in one column in 2014.
In 2000, he opined that “women tennis pros don’t really want equal pay for equal work. They want equal pay for inferior work.” The New York Times among others has documented many other instances where he expressed similar viewpoints.
It’s just added evidence that Moore is unfit for the Fed job, vice chair of the joint economic committee Carolyn Maloney told Reuters.
“Those include his reckless tendency to politicize the Fed as well as his bizarre and sexist comments about women in sports that came to light this week,” she said.
Republicans, she said, “should also take note that Moore has said capitalism is more important than democracy. That’s a dangerous comment that further confirms my belief that Moore shouldn’t be allowed on the Fed Board.”
Maloney earlier this month sent a letter urging Republican Senator Mike Crapo and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown to oppose Moore’s nomination. Crapo and Brown are the chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Senate banking committee, which would be Moore’s first stop in any confirmation hearings.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Charles Schumer, both Democrats, have also publicly criticized Moore as well as businessman Herman Cain, who withdrew his name from consideration for the Fed this week amid mounting objections. Cain said he stopped the process because he realized the job would mean a pay cut and would prevent him from pursuing his current business and speaking gigs.
The Senate banking panel’s 13 Republican members, contacted by Reuters about their views on Moore’s suitability for the Fed role after his derisive commentary about women came to light, all either did not respond or declined to comment.
But Brown on Wednesday blasted Moore for comments he made in 2014 calling cities in the Midwest, including Cincinnati, the “armpits of America.” Brown demanded an apology.
“It would be your job to carefully consider monetary and regulatory policies that support communities throughout the country - even those you apparently consider beneath you,” Brown wrote in a letter to Moore. “Based on your bias against communities across the heartland of our country, it’s clear that you lack the judgment to make important decisions in their best interest.”
On Wednesday, Moore told Reuters his earlier remarks on women were not in accord with his current views.
“I DO regret writing that column 17 years ago and it does not reflect my feelings today,” he said, referencing a column on his dim view of women’s participation in the game of basketball.
His views on the Midwest also had improved, now that Trump is in office.
“I’m writing a column about Ohio right now as a matter of fact. Trump is making Ohio great again. It’s a wonderful renaissance. Was just in Cleveland a few weeks ago and the vitality is back.”
Reporting by Ann Saphir and Trevor Hunnicutt with reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Andrea Ricci and James Dalgleish