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Stephen Moore is not worried about his Fed board confirmation

Moore believes he will be confirmed despite questions over sexist columns he has written.

Stephen Moore waves his hand as he discusses policy with CQ.
Stephen Moore waves his hand.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Stephen Moore, a conservative commentator who is likely to be one of President Donald Trump’s picks to fill Federal Reserve board vacancies, isn’t worried about his bid to join the group. He predicts he’ll sail through the confirmation process.

“I think I’m going to make it through this process,” Moore told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week Sunday.

Moore’s surety comes as he faces criticism for articles that seem to belittle women and for questions about personal debts.

As Vox’s Anna North wrote, among other things, Moore called the presence of a woman referee at a NCAA basketball game “an obscenity” and wrote of his frustration at the way his wife cast her vote in an election, arguing she’d been swayed by a commercial: “Women are sooo malleable!”

He followed that thought with, “No wonder there’s a gender gap.”

In several columns, Moore also appeared to argue against equal pay for men and women. In 2000, Moore wrote that women athletes should not be paid as much as men are because they are “inferior.” More recently in 2014, Moore wrote that feminists haven’t considered the impact on “family stability” that paying women equal to men would cause.

As Vox’s Amanda Sakuma notes, Moore was found to have been held in contempt of court for failing to paying his former wife $300,000 in alimony and child support. He also owes more than $75,000 to the IRS.

Sunday, the potential nominee told Stephanopoulos he regretted these columns, but also called criticism over the pieces and his personal debts part of a “smear campaign” and a “character assassination.”

“They were humor columns, but some of them weren’t funny and so I am apologetic, I’m embarrassed by some of those things that I wrote,” Moore said, before arguing the pieces aren’t relevant to how he would perform as a board member at the Fed. “We should get back to the issue of whether I am qualified to be on the Federal Reserve board.”

“I’ll debate anybody on economics,” Moore added. Many of his economic views are controversial, however.

Moore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, had criticized the Fed raising interest rates, something Trump has done as well. As Vox’s Matthew Yglesias has explained, that’s not necessarily a bad idea. Other views Moore has expressed are “outside the economic mainstream,” however, according to Bloomberg.

For instance, Moore has expressed some fondness for the idea of pegging the US dollar to the value of gold. In 2015, he said he believes that while dollars should be pegged to a basket of commodities, the gold standard is “a lot better than what we have now.”

He has also had some issues with deflation. Moore’s false claims on CNN about rate increases causing “deflation in the economy” were taken apart as he was making them by Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell. And a piece Moore wrote for the Wall Street Journal called “The Fed Is a Threat to Growth” was criticized by the director of the Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives at the Cato Institute, George Selgin, who suggested that Moore doesn’t really understand the meaning of “deflation” and that Moore’s piece contained factual errors.

“‘Deflation,’ first of all, means an absolute decline in prices, and not merely a decline in the rate at which prices increase,” Selgin wrote. “And notwithstanding Mr. Moore’s assertion that ‘the consumer-price index has been remarkably flat or slightly negative,’ neither the CPI nor any other popular price index has actually declined in during the last six months.”

These views, along with his dismissive stance towards the gender wage gap, has led Republican Sen. Susan Collins to claim she has reservations about the nomination.

“The Federal Reserve is supposed to be independent, so that does concern me,” Collins said. “And from what I’ve read, he also wants to return to a gold standard. I’m not sure what the implications are of that.”

But Moore, who served as an economic adviser to President Trump’s campaign, said the concerns of Collins and other senators who have expressed reservations about him (like Utah Sen. Mitt Romney) won’t be a problem.

“I’m friends with Susan Collins, I worked with her on the tax bill,” Moore said on This Week. “I know most of the Republican senators, I think they respect my economic expertise and my record.”

Moore did, however, say he is willing to withdraw from consideration should his nomination process cause senators difficulty with their constituents.

“If I become a liability to any of these senators, I would withdraw,” he said.

A candidate Trump was considering for a separate Federal Reserve board vacancy, former presidential Republican candidate Herman Cain, has already withdrawn his name from consideration after critics questioned his partisan stance, his professional experience, and allegations he has faced of sexual misconduct.

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