Economics

When Trump nominated Stephen Moore to fill a position on the board of the Federal Reserve he picked his usual caliber of candidate —  one lacking in character. The Guardian (UK) newspaper obtained court records from Virginia which showed Moore owed his ex-wife $300,000 in alimony and child support.

When Moore continued to welsh on his obligations, the court ordered the sale of his house to pay his ex-wife. However, the court canceled the sale when she agreed to forgo one-third of what she was owed. And that would have been that — except the IRA claims that Moore owes them $75,000 in taxes.

Moore denies the claim and says it stems from “confusion over tax deductions relating to his child support and alimony payments”.  Being confused over taxes is not a great qualification for a position overseeing the nation’s money supply. 

Moore is also a hypocrite. On the one hand, he has been a vocal supporter of marriage — saying that intact families are a key to economic growth and marriage instills a “culture of virtue”. On the other hand, while married, Moore set up two Match.com accounts and had an affair with two women.

Moore is also close with Paul Erickson — the two of them founded a controversial attack group during the 2008 campaign. And Erickson’s girlfriend is Maria Butina, the infamous Russian agent sent to infiltrate conservative circles. (it’s a small world.) 

But immorality is no bar to a job in Trump World – and neither is inability. Moore is the economic co-architect, along with Arthur Laffer, of Reagan’s deficit-exploding, supply-side, tax cut plan. This ‘theory’ maintained that tax cuts for the rich would create wealth that would trickle down to the average citizen.

All it did was lead to ever-widening income inequality and an explosion of the National Debt. Unfortunately, this economic stupidity will not die — George Bush Sr. called it ‘voodoo economics’, it would be better named ‘zombie economics’. George Bush Jr. tried it and blew up the economy. Now Trump has tried it and the cracks are starting to show.

Leading conservative economists are dismayed by Moore’s nomination. William D. Cohen in Vanity Fair identifies two. Greg Mankiw, a Harvard professor who was chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under Bush, wrote in a blog post  “He does not have the intellectual gravitas for this important job” — adding “It is time for senators to do their job. Mr. Moore should not be confirmed”. And Bruce Barlett, another G.O.P. economist, tweeted that Moore knows “absolutely nothing about the Federal Reserve or monetary policy.”  

Moore has no Ph.D. or equivalent. But he does have a doctorate in ass-kissing, and that is Trump’s favorite qualification. As Cohen wrote: “Moore is a true believer, and that’s what Trump seems to need around him these days. Moore once—seriously—suggested that Trump deserved the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics and, again seriously, said he thought Trump looked like ‘a football player, in incredible, great shape’.” Oh please. 

Along with Laffer, Moore also authored a 2018 book “Trumpanomics” which lauded Trump’s economic chops. In it, they claimed that Trump’s 2017 tax plan would raise GDP growth to as much as 6% without increasing deficits. A claim derided as “snake-oil economics” by Mankiw.  

Moore has had problems with facts before. In a 2014 Kansas City Star op-ed he argued that job growth was better in low-tax states. His data was found to be flawed. He submitted more data – also faulty. Finally, Miriam Pepper, editorial page editor for the Star had had enough, announcing: “I won’t be running anything else from Stephen Moore”.

Moore has inflicted himself on other presidential candidates. He was Herman Cain’s economic advisor, and his lasting contribution to that short-lived campaign was Cain’s laughable 9-9-9 tax plan.

But Moore has GOP support. Alabama Senator, Richard Shelby, who has lived through every Republican recession since the Great Depression thinks that Moore’s intellectual limitations are Jim Dandy. His take? “I’ve always said they could use diversity, you don’t need to be a Nobel laureate or University of Chicago professor.” 

Republicans, like autocrats everywhere, think that knowing things is deeply suspect. 

Even Moore acknowledges he isn’t up for the job, saying on the news of his nomination “I’m kind of new to this game, frankly, so I’m going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the Fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes it decisions, and this is a real, exciting opportunity for me”

Let’s note that if Moore’s confirmed he’ll be in the position for 14 years. Trump will be gone, but his legacy of incompetence will be around for a long time.

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