Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the central bank has the ability to be “patient” in determining when to hike interest rates. (Jan. 10)
WASHINGTON – Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has no plans to withdraw his name from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, even though he apparently doesn’t have the votes to win confirmation by the Senate, according to a published report.
Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he was “very committed” to going through the vetting process as the White House decides whether to formally nominate him for the position.
“The president asked me one simple question…He said, ’Would you consider doing this if you make it through the process?’ I said yes. Didn’t hesitate,” Cain told the paper during an interview at his office in suburban Atlanta.
President Donald Trump announced on April 4 that he intended to nominate Cain for the Federal Reserve position, a move that is part of Trump’s push to significantly alter the central bank’s direction.
But Cain’s possible nomination has caused a considerable backlash among Democrats and some Republicans in Congress.
Four GOP senators – Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski and Cory Gardner of Colorado – announced their opposition to the appointment, virtually dooming his chance of winning confirmation.
Asked Tuesday whether Cain still has Trump’s confidence, Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic adviser, said: “Yes, Herman’s going through the vetting process.”
“For now, that’s where we are on that,” Kudlow said. “I think at the end of the day it’ll probably be up to Herman Cain if he wants to stay in that process or not. As far as we’re concerned, he’s in the process and it’s proceeding in an orderly way.”
Cain, known to millions of Americans for the “9-9-9” tax plan he pushed during his 2012 run for the GOP presidential nomination, has repeatedly been accused of sexual harassment.
Trump had not formally nominated Cain to the seven-member board but had announced his intentions to do so. He called Cain “an outstanding person.”
Trump, a fierce critic of the central bank, named Reagan-era economist Stephen Moore to a spot on the seven-member Federal Reserve board in March. Taken together, the appointments underscore Trump’s desire to make significant chances to Fed policy.
Congressional Democrats ridiculed both picks and compared them to a “Saturday Night Live” skit. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Moore and Cain “totally ill-suited, unqualified” for the positions.
The Fed, an independent board whose members are appointed by the president, raises interest rates to cool down a hot economy and cuts them to stimulate a sluggish one. The rates affect how much it costs to use a credit card, sign a car loan or buy a home.
In December, the Fed said it had penciled in two rate hikes this year following four increases in 2018 as part of a campaign to bring rates back to more normal levels as the economy has improved since the Great Recession. Trump had argued that those increases have slowed growth in an otherwise strong economy.
Cain is perhaps best known for the “9-9-9 plan” to overhaul the tax code by calling for a 9% flat tax on household income, 9% corporate tax and 9% national sales tax. The former candidate drew wide support from the tea party movement. But his campaign was derailed after several women said he had sexually harassed them and one alleged a long-term extramarital affair. Cain denied the allegations.
Cain was the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Omaha Branch, from 1989 to 1991.
Contributing: Ledyard King, David Jackson
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