Trump to nominate economic analyst Stephen Moore for Fed board as conservative watchdog over economy

A well-known and often polarizing figure in Washington political circles is being nominated to fill a vacancy on the Federal Reserve’s seven-member board, President Trump announced Friday.

Stephen Moore, a conservative economic analyst and frequent critic of the Fed, served as an adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign. In that role, the loyalist helped draft Trump’s tax cut plan.

Trump can score points with his core supporters — and with the majority Republicans in the Senate — by embracing a conservative activist for a Fed role that would make him a watchdog over the economy.

“FreedomWorks is proud to see President Trump offer such a prestigious position to one of our own,” said Adam Brandon, president of that conservative advocacy group. “I have no doubt that Stephen Moore would make an excellent member of the Federal Reserve Board.”

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A fervent advocate of tax cuts, Moore is close to Larry Kudlow, head of the White House National Economic Council. The two collaborated in shaping the tax overhaul that Trump signed into law at the end of 2017, leading to changes that largely favored tax cuts for corporations and wealthier individuals with the idea of spurring investment and growth.

Trump has been harshly critical of the Fed’s rate increases even after the central bank announced this week that it foresees no hikes this year. Moore, formerly chief economist for the conservative Heritage Foundation, also has been critical of the policies of Chairman Jerome Powell.

The Senate must confirm Moore’s nomination. Given his sharply partisan reputation, Moore could spark opposition among Democrats in the Senate.

Trump in his first two years in office has been able to reshape the central bank. He nominated four of the current five members. And he tapped Powell, who had been chosen for the Fed board by President Barack Obama, to succeed Janet Yellen as chairman. If confirmed by the Senate, Moore would fill one of two vacancies on the board.

The selection of Moore marks a deviation from Trump’s previous choices for the board, toward a more public figure who long has pushed conservative economic and political ideology.

With Trump as president, Moore became a sharp critic of Fed policies to shrink its balance sheet and return rates to what the central bank sees as a neutral level — neither stimulating nor hindering growth. He went so far as to suggest that Trump might consider trying to fire Powell for the rate hikes under his watch.

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Moore frequently has praised the administration, and he co-wrote the 2018 book “Trumponomics.” His partner on that book was Art Laffer, who pioneered the Republican doctrine that lower tax rates would accelerate economic growth in ways that could minimize debt.

But federal debt has jumped since Trump’s overhaul to the tax code, surging nearly 77 percent through the first four months of fiscal 2019 compared with the previous year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.