Fed pick Moore says he’s more pro-trade, immigration than Trump

Stephen Moore, visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in Washington, DC. (Bloomberg pic)

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s latest pick to serve on the Federal Reserve Board said he’d be an independent voice in that role and that he doesn’t always agree with the president, particularly on trade and immigration.

“I think 75% of the time I agree with Donald Trump, I give him really high marks for his handling of the economy,” Stephen Moore said in a CNN interview on Saturday.

Moore, an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, co-authored the 2018 book, “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Get Our Economy Back on Track.”

“There are many times I disagree with him. I’m pro-trade, I’m more pro-free-trade than he is, I’m probably a little bit more pro-immigration than he is, so I will be an independent mind for growth and the American worker,” he said.

Long known a champion of free trade in the Republican mold, Moore pushed back this month against the president’s repeated threat to slap new steep tariffs of up to 25% on automobiles, which automakers, parts suppliers and dealers staunchly oppose.

In a March 10 opinion piece published in the Washington Times entitled “The Tariffs Nobody Wants,” Moore wrote “what is peculiar about President Trump’s proposed 25% auto tariff is that even most of the domestic car industry producers don’t want it. They seem to be telling Mr. Trump: Thanks, but no thanks to the restrictions on foreign import competitors.”

The economic commentator and senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation also praised Trump’s handling of the economy and echoed the president’s ongoing criticisms of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

He called the central bank’s late-2018 rate hikes “questionable,” after terming the December increase “a very substantial mistake” in a March 22 interview on Bloomberg Television.

“My objective when I get over to the Fed is to help Chairman Powell pursue the policies that will grow this economy, provide high wages, a lot of jobs and stable prices, and I don’t think that’s too controversial,” Moore said on CNN. Keeping prices stable would help maximise economic growth, he said.

Trump said on March 22 he’d tap Moore for the open Fed board seat.

The White House hasn’t yet officially submitted Moore’s nomination to the Senate, which must vote to confirm him.

Responding to criticism that he lacks what Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw called the “intellectual gravitas” to serve at the central bank, Moore said on CNN that being a PhD economist wasn’t a prerequisite.

Three of the five current Fed board members, notably Powell, have law degrees.

Earlier on Saturday the Guardian reported that Moore had been found in contempt of court after he failed to pay his ex-wife some US$300,000 in alimony after their 2010 divorce, citing court records.

A judge in Virginia reprimanded Moore in 2012 after he didn’t make spousal support, child support and other payments required by the divorce settlement, and in 2013 ordered Moore to sell his house to satisfy the debt, the Guardian reported.

Moore’s ex-wife halted the sale process after he partially paid what he owed her, the paper said, citing court filings.

Reports earlier this week showed that Moore owes more than US$75,000 in taxes and other penalties to the US government.

A federal tax lien filed in the circuit court for Montgomery County, Maryland, where Moore owns a house, says that the government won a judgment against Moore for US$75,328.80.

The Jan 2018 filing said the lien was for unpaid taxes from the 2014 tax year and could accrue additional penalties and other costs.