President Trump shelved his plan to put Herman Cain on the Federal Reserve amid opposition from his own party, with Democrats swiftly urging Republicans to also block the president’s pick of fellow supporter Stephen Moore for the U.S. central bank.
“My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board,” the president said in a tweet Monday. “I will respect his wishes.”
Cain, 73, is bowing out after a path to Senate confirmation appeared blocked. A fourth Senate Republican said this month he’d oppose Cain. With Republicans holding 53 seats in the 100-seat chamber and Democrats united in their position, the loss of four Republican votes would have killed his chances of securing the necessary support.
The Trump loyalist, whose bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination ended amid accusations of sexual harassment and infidelity, had said as recently as Thursday that he was not going to withdraw. Cain’s comment, in an interview with Fox News, was made after an Atlanta woman came forward again with allegations of an extramarital affair that ended his White House run.
Cain explained in a column published later Monday on conservative website the Western Journal that he changed his mind over the weekend after it was explained to him that he’d have to let go of most of his business interests, stop doing paid speeches and would not be able to “advocate on behalf of capitalism,” host his radio show or go on Fox News.
“Without getting too specific about how big a pay cut this would be, let’s just say I’m pretty confident that if your boss told you to take a similar pay cut, you’d tell him where to go,” he wrote.
The president’s desire to place Cain and like-minded ally Moore on the Fed board had sparked concern over the politicization of the U.S. central bank. The Fed answers to Congress and was designed to have independent control over monetary policy, insulating interest rates from short-term political considerations that might do long-term economic harm.
Trump has shown no such restraint, repeatedly attacking Fed Chairman Jerome H. Powell for raising rates last year and discussing firing him in December as U.S. stocks tumbled. Since then, policymakers have become very cautious as U.S. economic growth slackened amid head winds from abroad and they didn’t project any increases this year in their most recent forecasts.
Cain, who backed Trump’s tax cuts and credited the president for a booming economy, had previously forecast a recession, which he blamed on President Obama, and was arguing in favor of a return to the gold standard back in 2012.
The White House had not submitted paperwork for a Cain nomination to the Senate, which would have been for one of the two open seats on the Fed’s seven-seat board in Washington. The other is earmarked for Moore, chief economist of the conservative Heritage Foundation, who has echoed Trump’s demand for Fed rate cuts.
As of Monday, Moore had also not been formally nominated to the Fed by the president — a routine delay as potential candidates for nominations undergo a background check.
Moore’s selection has also drawn scrutiny after it emerged that he had been found in contempt of court after he failed to pay his former wife some $300,000 in alimony after their 2010 divorce, the Guardian reported, citing court records. Moore also owes more than $75,000 in taxes and other penalties to the U.S. government, according to a January filing in the circuit court for Montgomery County, Maryland, where he owns a house.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer called on his GOP colleagues not to use Cain’s withdrawal “as a pathway by Senate Republicans to approve Stephen Moore,” whom he described in a statement as posing a threat to the economy.
“Mr. Cain clearly saw the writing on the wall and withdrew his name from consideration; hopefully Senate Republicans will again voice their deep concerns and force Mr. Moore to do the same,” Schumer said.
CNN separately reported Monday that Moore made disparaging remarks about women in the early 2000s. His observations, published online in the conservative National Review, included that women should not be allowed to referee men’s college basketball games, and that women athletes advocating for pay equality wanted the same money “for inferior work.”
Moore told CNN the remarks were intended to be a “spoof.”
Moore did not respond to a request for comment on the CNN article though he did say, in a text message to Bloomberg, that he had no intention of taking himself out of the running for the Fed.