The headline sounds incredulous because I’m surprised the White House would force a candidate with old #MeToo problems on the Senate, especially when it’s Democrats who are wrestling with that subject right now via their Joe Biden conundrum. This will be an easy way for Schumer to change the subject and unite his caucus against someone accused of more serious misconduct than Biden’s been accused of.
According to Axios, the main question mark with Cain is something coming up in his background check. Er, (a) I’m pretty sure something’s going to come up, and (b) since when does the Trump White House let background-check problems stop them from hiring people?
President Trump has told confidants he wants Herman Cain on the Federal Reserve board, but will wait until his background check is completed before making the formal announcement, according to two senior administration officials familiar with the decision…
“He won’t formally announce until the vet is completed…But he likes Cain and wants to put him on there,” said a senior official who has discussed the matter with the president…
As with any Trump “decision,” administration officials are quick to attach an asterisk. This time, their hesitation is less about Trump changing his mind than about something coming up in Cain’s background check that could complicate the situation.
The obvious background-check problem is that Cain was accused by four women of various forms of sexual harassment during his time at the National Restaurant Association. Two of those women received payouts; the accusations led him to end his 2012 campaign for president although he never admitted to anything. The most lurid charge against him from that period was that he tried to grab his accuser by the you-know-what:
During their meeting, [Sharon] Bialek alleges that Cain put his hand under her skirt and reached for her genitals and also pushed her head toward his crotch while they were in a car.
She recalls saying: “This isn’t what I came here for, Mr. Cain.”
The now-GOP presidential candidate responded, according to Bialek, “You want a job, right?”
Democratic researchers will be in touch. McConnell will start with 53 votes here but I can’t imagine either Collins or Murkowski are enthusiastic to sign on — Collins especially since lefties are already mad at her for supporting Kavanaugh and she’s up for reelection next year. Can Mitch hold the other 51 together? Probably, but it may depend on how many accusers Schumer can come up with between now and the confirmation vote. Either way, the nomination is all but a done deal, reports Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg.
Read my take on Cain and the Fed from January, when rumors of him being nominated to the Fed board of governors first began to swirl. Lefties are joking today about Cain’s prominence in righty media that the only thing keeping Jeanine Pirro off the Supreme Court is the influence of the Federalist Society, but that sells him short. He’s not just a business success, he’s a former chairman of the Kansas City Fed. Granted, the job of regional chairman has traditionally drawn from the business ranks whereas the Fed board of governors typically draws from academia but Cain’s Fed experience will help put some GOP senators at ease.
The question is whether the Senate is willing to rubber-stamp Trump’s obvious attempt to install political cronies at the Fed to steer the body away from raising interest rates anytime soon. The Fed is supposed to be quasi-independent from the White House, acting in the interests of the economy rather than the president’s reelection effort. It is … difficult to believe that Cain and Moore, both Trump cheerleaders, would stab him in the back and support another rate hike before next fall knowing the risk that that would slow growth. Although maybe Cain will have more of an independent streak about that than anyone expects?
Cain in September co-founded a pro-Trump super-political action committee, America Fighting Back PAC, which features a photo of the president on its website and says: “We must protect Donald Trump and his agenda from impeachment.”
Cain, who had a long corporate career, has also worked in the Federal Reserve system. From 1992 to 1996, he served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, as well as deputy chairman and then chairman. He advocated for the U.S. to return to the gold standard during his presidential campaign and as recently as December 2017 defended higher interest rates, a position that contrasts with Trump’s repeated criticisms of the Fed last year.
A guy who founded a PAC devoted to “protecting” Trump probably isn’t going to betray him on something as momentous as interest-rate policy given what that might do to Trump’s reelection prospects. And so the question: Assuming Collins and Murkowski balk over the #MeToo stuff, are there two additional Republicans in the Senate prepared to oppose Cain on cronyist grounds, in the belief that there should be more political distance between the president and Fed governors? Maybe. In fact, there might be one already:
Mitt Romney is not particularly impressed with the idea of Herman Cain joining the Federal Reserve.
In an interview, the Utah Republican senator brushed off the prospect of Trump following through and officially nominating Cain: “I doubt that will be a nomination. But if it were a nomination, you can bet [what] the interest rates he would be pushing for.”…
“I would like to see nominees that are economists first and not partisans. I think it’s important that the Fed be a nonpartisan entity,” Romney said. “The key is that someone is outside of the political world and is an economic leader not a partisan leader.”
Anyone who opposes Cain on cronyist grounds will likely oppose Stephen Moore too. Is Trump sure he has the votes for these guys?