Federal Reserve

Moore says 'sleaze campaign,' not disagreement with Trump, doomed his Fed chances

Key Points
  • "I'm not so sure I agree with the White House that we should cut rates by an entire percentage point," Moore said. "I just don't see the case for that right now."
  • Moore made his comments after Trump called for a 1% cuts to the Fed's overnight rate and urged for more quantitative easing.
Stephen Moore
Anjali Sundaram | CNBC

Hours before withdrawing from consideration for the Federal Reserve board, Stephen Moore was quoted as saying he disagreed with President Donald Trump's call for the central bank to sharply cut rates.

"I'm not so sure I agree with the White House that we should cut rates by an entire percentage point," Moore told Bloomberg News on Thursday. "I just don't see the case for that right now."

On Thursday afternoon, Trump announced that Moore had withdrawn his name from consideration for the board.

"Steve Moore, a great pro-growth economist and a truly fine person, has decided to withdraw from the Fed process," Trump tweeted.

Moore made his comments two days after Trump called for a 1% cuts to the Fed's overnight rate and urged for more quantitative easing, which are the measures used by the central bank to stimulate the economy after the financial crisis.

Moore said the disagreement did not factor into his decision to withdraw.

"No," he said when asked by Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto if the disagreement was a factor. "I often disagree with the president. More often, I agree with him. The irony here is people were saying I was just going to be a puppet for Trump over that the Fed. That was the furthest thing from the truth."

Instead, Moore said it was "character assassination" from the political left that killed his chances. He had come under fire repeatedly over previous writings that had been considered sexist and derogatory towards women, and reports also chronicled tax and divorce troubles he'd experienced in the past.

"It was very disappointing that this couldn't go forward," he said. "But the fact is that this kind of sleaze campaign over the past three or four weeks was really just too tough for me and my family. We just decided it was much better for Donald Trump to select someone who doesn't have, you know, a 30-year paper trail."

He added that Trump was "nice and kind" when Moore told him he was withdrawing.

Moore had been in agreement with Trump that the Fed shouldn't have raised rates in December and that the central bank's moved threatened to impede growth.

In a series of tweets, Trump said the U.S. economy would go up "like a rocket" if the Fed loosened monetary policy.

Trump's call for lower rates came after the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew at an annualized pace of 3.2% in the first quarter. That was the best start to a year since 2015.

On Wednesday, the Fed kept interest rates unchanged, citing lackluster inflation. However, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said low inflationary pressures may just be "transitory," hinting inflation could pick up.

The Fed raised rates four times in 2018. The last rate hike was followed by a massive sell-off in the equity market and then a sharp rebound.

Moore added he "could make the case for repealing the rate hike that took place in December" since the economy was slowing at that point.

Trump had not submitted Moore's name as a Fed governor. Plans to do so ran into trouble due to controversial statements unearthed from Moore's past.

Despite growing opposition from both parties, Moore had said he would not withdraw his name from consideration, as Hermain Cain was forced to do recently following controversy and indications that he did not have sufficient Republican support to make it through a confirmation hearing.

""I'm not pulling out," Moore told The Wall Street Journal in a report published Thursday morning. Moore said he had spoken with a White House official who encouraged him to continue with the process.

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