- President Donald Trump announced the selection of Herman Cain, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, for the Federal Reserve Board on April 4.
- A variety of personal issues and Cain’s lack of economic background have already imperiled his nomination, according to reports.
- The likelihood that Cain is actually approved by the Senate is dwindling, according to analysts.
- The trouble for Cain also comes after questions about the fitness of Trump’s other Fed Board pick, conservative economist Stephen Moore.
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It’s been less than a week since President Donald Trump announced the selection of Herman Cain, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, for the Federal Reserve Board. The outlook already doesn’t look good for the potential nomination.
While Trump has not yet officially submitted the nomination for Cain to the Senate, reports indicate that many lawmakers are not at all enthused by the selection. A series of personal and professional issues could also complicate Cain’s appearance before the Senate, leading experts to predict that the potential nomination is either never submitted or simply falls through.
A report from Politico’s Burgess Everett on Tuesday detailed pushback from Senate Republicans to the Cain nomination due to questions about the former pizza chain CEO’s qualifications to serve on a board that determines monetary policy for the US and has massive sway over the global economy.
While Cain was chair of the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s board of directors from 1995 to 1996, though the role is largely an advisory one for local businesspeople.
Even more complicated are the reports that emerged during the 2012 presidential campaign regarding settlements made with two women who accused Cain of sexual harassment during his time as CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
Employees of the association also detailed questionable behaviour during Cain’s tenure, including using sexual innuendo or asking inappropriate questions during conversations with employees.
According to Politico, many Republicans are urging the president to simply pull the nomination.
Even Sen. John Thune, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, admitted to Politico that Republican members are privately doubting Cain’s fitness for the position.
“There are concerns that are being voiced to the administrations about qualifications,” Thune said.
Sen. Mitt Romney – who ran against Cain in 2012 – also told Politico, “I would anticipate voting no on Herman Cain.”
Cain would need near-unanimous support from Senate Republicans in order to be confirmed. That could be complicated since he has also led a pro-Trump political action committee that attacked 12 Republican senators for voting for a bill to terminate Trump’s national emergency declaration.
Besides Romney, GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Cory Gardner have also told reporters they plan to vote “no” on Cain. Given the GOP’s 53 to 47 edge in the Senate, the potential nominee would need every other Republican to vote “yes” and Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie in order to be confirmed.
Despite the potential trouble for Cain, Trump stood by the former pizza chain CEO as a person while talking to reporters Wednesday. However, the president cast doubts on the process going forward.
“He’s just somebody I like a lot. As to how he’s doing in the process, that I don’t know … Herman’s a great guy and I hope he does well,” Trump said on the lawn of the White House before departing for Texas.
Cain may be ‘cooked,’ but Trump’s other Fed pick may not be
Given the intense pushback, many analysts are seriously doubting the chances for Cain to make it through the Senate, if Trump even formally nominates Cain at all.
Greg Valliere, the chief US policy strategist at AGF Investments, said in a note to clients Wednesday that the chance Cain makes it to the Fed Board are quickly falling.
“Our sense is that Cain has no better than a 20% chance, and we anticipate a mercy killing coming – the nomination probably will be yanked with weeks (or days),” Valliere said.
In an email, Neil Dutta, the chief economist at Renaissance Macro Research, cited the Politico story and said that Cain’s nomination looked “cooked.”
Despite issues for Cain, Trump could still pick up a win. Dutta and Valliere both suggested that Cain’s nomination falling apart could be beneficial to the other recent Fed Board pick made by Trump: conservative economist Stephen Moore.
Concerns regarding back taxes, personal issues, a weak forecasting track record, and open attacks against current Fed members bubbled up following Moore’s nomination, leading some experts to wonder if the economist would make it through the process.
But with even more pressing concerns on Cain’s record, Moore could look more acceptable to GOP senators by comparison according to Chris Krueger, a policy strategist at Cowen Washington Research Group.
“Cain could serve as a heat-shield for Moore, though the sooner Cain’s nomination is pulled the attention will be entirely on Moore,” Kreuger said.
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