A Security guard stands in fron oft he US Federal Reserve building, on Aug. 08, 2011 in Washington DC. 
Mark Wilson/Getty

The embarrassment surrounding Trump’s Fed picks intensifies

Updated

Donald Trump not only still likes the idea of adding Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, the Washington Post reports that the president also offered Cain the opportunity to see what most White House visitors do not.

Trump recently gathered with generals and other military leaders for a meeting about the Mexican border, according to two people familiar with the chain of events who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe the discussions. At the meeting, which was held in the White House Situation Room, an aide passed Trump a note informing him that Cain was in the building.

Trump summoned Cain to the meeting, and then told the military brass that they needed to come up with a “9-9-9” plan for the border. The joke fell flat.

Comedy gold like that didn’t generate huge laughs? I guess the Situation Room is a tough room.

Regardless, I hope Cain enjoyed his visit to the West Wing, because it may have been the closest he’ll get to real power. Several Senate Republicans have expressed their opposition to Cain joining the Fed – enough to derail a nomination – and by some accounts, he’ll withdraw from consideration in the coming days, ending this unfortunate fiasco.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters yesterday that the White House supports Cain’s candidacy for the Federal Reserve “for the moment,” which is generally not the kind of phrase we’d expect about someone who’s likely to succeed.

It probably doesn’t help that embarrassing new information about Cain continues to come to the fore: the Kansas City Star reported yesterday that the Georgia Republican has “described the Senate Banking Committee, which would vet him if he were nominated, ‘as a bunch of yahoos.’ He compared the right to health care to the right to own a Cadillac, and said God would decide when it was time to stop using fossil fuels.”

So, if Cain – who still hasn’t formally even been nominated – will soon exit the stage, fans of common sense and sound governance can breathe a little easier? Maybe, but there is Trump’s other pick for the Fed to consider.

Suffice it to say, I’ve made the case on multiple occasions that Republican pundit Stephen Moore does not belong on the Federal Reserve board. As Matt Stieb noted last night, however, Moore continues to make life harder on those inclined to defend him.

The gold standard, the monetary system in which paper currency is backed by a shiny metal, was effectively abandoned in the United States in 1933, and officially dropped in 1971. Though markets featuring such a standard were known to be more volatile and more likely to suffer inflation, some conservative politicians and economists have flirted with the idea in recent years.

Among their ranks: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Stephen Moore, who is one of President Trump’s nominees for the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. But in an appearance on CNN on Thursday, Moore, an economist at the Heritage Foundation, quite confidently told host Erin Burnett that he had never supported a return to the gold standard.

CNN’s Erin Burnett told him she was about to play a video of Moore praising the gold standard, but he interrupted her. “I don’t think I’ve ever really said anything much about the gold standard,” Moore said. “I’m not in favor of the gold standard.”

Moments later, Burnett proceeded to show a series of clips in which Moore praised the gold standard – including, in one instance, comments he made as recently as 2016 while campaigning for Donald Trump.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent Moore an eight-page, footnoted letter, asking him a series of questions about his background and ideology.

“Given the gravity of this task,” the Democratic presidential candidate wrote, “it is critical that the Board of Governors takes actions that are independent of politics, developed using good judgment, and based on sound data. You have a long history of making wildly inaccurate claims about economic policy that appear to serve political ends – suggesting that you are unqualified and unsuited for the job for which you are expected to be nominated.”

I’ll look forward to seeing his response.

In the meantime, keep one detail in mind: Politico reported this week, “Some GOP senators said that Cain’s difficult path might have eased Stephen Moore’s confirmation to the Fed, despite Moore’s own problems with unpaid taxes and his partisan reputation. After all, Republicans might be hard-pressed to revolt against both of Trump’s nominees.”

That’s foolish for a variety of reasons, but it’s a dynamic worth watching.

Donald Trump, Federal Reserve and Herman Cain

The embarrassment surrounding Trump's Fed picks intensifies

Updated