Thursday, November 19, 2020

Trump lost. He knows it. He is setting fires on the way out. And the GOPlins are aiding and abetting.

Trump’s latest X/AntiX nomination is exposed by Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post:Republicans are trying to jam through Judy Shelton. She has no business working at the Fed.

Republican lawmakers are about to start an arms race politicizing a government institution critical to the country’s functioning, one that spent decades painstakingly establishing its credibility as a neutral, apolitical body of professionals.

No, not the Supreme Court. This time it’s the Federal Reserve.

The Senate is expected to vote as soon as this week on Trump’s nomination of Judy Shelton to the Fed. Simply put, Shelton is a demonstrably unqualified partisan quack who has no business working at the world’s most powerful central bank. Her nomination has been condemned by hundreds of economists and Fed alumni, including prominent Republicans and at least seven Nobel laureates. The senators poised to confirm her appear to know she is unfit; ahead of February hearings, a former Republican Senate Banking Committee aide said that “the idea of even calling her as a witness for something was beyond the pale” not long ago.

Republican lawmakers who now support Shelton’s appointment to one of the most important economic policymaking jobs in the world have struggled to explain why. In damningly faint praise, they admit that sure, she might believe ridiculous things, but she’d serve alongside competent people. So she can’t cause that much damage, right?

To be clear, these lawmakers have generally not endorsed Shelton’s stances.

Perhaps most objectionable is her multi-decade effort to bring back the gold standard. This might be popular among the right-wing fringe, but it was abandoned worldwide long ago and remains almost unanimously rejected by economists. For good reasons, including that gold prices are volatile. Linking the dollar to gold can also restrict liquidity when the economy needs it most — as happened during the Great Depression.

She has also questioned whether the Fed should even exist — before she was nominated to serve on its board.

So … why?

It’s unclear why Republicans are lowering the bar now — in the midst of a historic economic crisis. Another pending Fed nominee, Christopher Waller, is qualified for the job and still hasn’t gotten a vote; yet somehow Shelton is getting jammed through ahead of him.

One possible explanation: a desire to salt the earth for incoming President-elect Joe Biden.

Heather Cox Richardson (Letters from an American) sees it the same way.

Trump appears to be doing all he can to cripple Biden’s administration before it begins. Officials have told CNN that Trump is withdrawing troops worldwide in order to box Biden in before he takes office. A senior official told CNN that the goal is “to set so many fires that it will be hard for the Biden administration to put them all out.”

This has passed incompetence. It’s clearly vengeful malice perpetrated by the political equivalent of a school yard bully.

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