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Stephen Moore’s Fed nomination under pressure as GOP senator calls his past comments ‘ridiculous’

President Trump has selected GOP operative Stephen Moore to join the Federal Reserve Board. (Bloomberg and AP/Danielle Kunitz)

Stephen Moore’s Federal Reserve board nomination appears to be under pressure as Democrats and some Republicans are balking at controversial comments Moore has made about women in his long career as a conservative commentator.

“I’m not enthused about what he has said in various articles. I think it’s ridiculous,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told The Washington Post on Monday.

Ernst didn’t say whether she was troubled enough by the remarks not to vote for Moore, but her remarks are the latest indication that Moore would probably face a tough confirmation process in the Senate.

The White House has yet to formally nominate Moore for one of the two openings on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday that the White House is looking into Moore’s past comments, which include saying there would be societal problems if men were not the breadwinners in the family, denouncing co-ed sports and saying female athletes do “inferior work” to men.

"Certainly we’re reviewing those comments. When we have an update on that front, we’ll let you know,” Sanders said.

Moore would probably need almost all of the 53 GOP votes in the Senate to be confirmed because Democrats and many economists say Moore is unqualified and would compromise the independence of the Fed. Moore was an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and has said the president should be nominated for a Nobel Prize in economics.

No Republican has said explicitly that they would not vote for Moore, but there is unease about his messy divorce, his call in December for Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell to be fired and his numerous digs about women over the years.

“I hope they’re things he’d like to reconsider," Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Monday after reviewing some of Moore’s remarks about women.

A GOP senator who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss conference dynamics said Republicans would prefer that Trump never formally nominate Moore but that Moore probably would be confirmed if the vote were held now. The senator said that for now concerns about Moore don’t rise to the level of Herman Cain, who withdrew from consideration last week after four Republicans senators said they would not vote for him because of his flamboyant style and allegations of sexual harassment against him by four women.

Moore is fighting the Internal Revenue Service over $75,000 in unpaid taxes and was found in contempt of court in 2013 for failing to pay his ex-wife more than $330,000 in child support and alimony. The Club for Growth, a conservative political group, was fined $350,000 by the Federal Election Commission for improper actions when Moore was president of the organization. His long record of appearing on TV and writing columns also includes a number of statements that are outside of the mainstream, such as calling for a return to the gold standard.

“I think when things are drip by drip — taxes, alimony, child support, questions on all of this — I said it’s ... doesn’t help any,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. “But one, he hasn’t been nominated, and he’s entitled to a hearing if he is nominated. He does have some experience in a lot of ways. We’ll see what happens.”

Moore says he has now paid the tax lien and that it was based on “about $7,000 of tax underpayment.” He and his wife are working to get the IRS to return the rest of the money they believe they are owed. Moore appeared on TV and radio outlets Sunday to apologize for his past comments about women, claiming they were meant as “humor columns” that he now regrets writing.

Moore is also under fire for claiming in 2014 that Cleveland and Cincinnati are the “armpits of America." The Toledo Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have urged their state’s senators to vote against Moore, calling him out of touch with Middle America.

“Such ‘armpit’ comments however are unacceptable, even if they were made in jest. He should not be named to the Fed," wrote the editorial board of the Toledo Blade.

Moore said Sunday that he grew up in the Chicago area where he was taught not to like rival cities such as Cleveland and Cincinnati but that he had to admit Ohio is doing very well economically now.


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