WASHINGTON: A top economic adviser to President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the White House still backs Stephen Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, despite concerns Democratic lawmakers have about his competence.
"We're still behind him, and he's going through the process of vetting," National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House.
Moore, who said on Sunday that he was facing a "smear campaign" and "character assassination," has come under fire for his past writings and comments about women and his out-of-the-mainstream economic views.
Democratic lawmakers also worry he is too political for the independent central bank, where officials pride themselves on standing above politics.
In 2014, Moore wrote that family stability could be disrupted if women earned more than men and in 2000 he opined that "women tennis pros don't really want equal pay for equal work. They want equal pay for inferior work." He has also called cities in the Midwest the "armpits of America."
He has been criticized for voicing support for tying monetary policy decisions to commodity prices and for his fluctuating views on interest rates.
Trump has yet to formally nominate Moore, who would play a role in setting rates for the world's largest economy if he is tapped for the job and confirmed by the Senate.
There are currently two vacancies on the Fed's Washington-based board. Trump had wanted to nominate businessman and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain for the second vacancy, but Cain bowed out last week after it became clear he did not have the needed support in the Senate.
Kudlow said the administration was interviewing a number of good candidates for that second Fed post.
Trump has frequently criticized the Fed for pushing borrowing costs up and Kudlow had said previously that both he and the president felt rates should be lowered, a position Moore has also previously advocated.
On Monday, Kudlow told Fox Business Network that signs inflation was slowing "opens the door" to a rate cut.
"They have been themselves talking about it coming in lower than their inflation target, which might mean a lower interest rate adjustment on their own timetable," he said.
The central bank last month brought a three-year rate-hike cycle to an end amid signs of slower global economic growth.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)