Fed pick gets earful from Brown after 'armpit' remark on Ohio

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WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee is raising concerns about the potential nomination of Stephen Moore to serve on the Federal Reserve Board over prior disparaging comments he has made about cities and towns in the Midwest.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, wrote a letter to Moore asking why he described the cities of Cincinnati and Cleveland as the “armpit of America,” and questioned whether he will make decisions that benefit all Americans if he is confirmed to the Fed.

“On behalf of the people of Ohio, the Midwest, and every community that has been looked down on and disparaged by Washington and Wall Street, I demand an apology and I demand that you publicly retract your statement,” Brown said in his letter dated Tuesday.

Brown’s letter was in response to comments Moore made in 2014 when asked about debt issues Chicago faced at the time.

“If you want to live in the Midwest where else do you want to live besides Chicago?” Moore said. “You don’t want to live in Cincinnati or Cleveland, or these armpits of America like that. You want to live in Chicago.”

Brown said Moore’s comments raise concerns about whether his decisions on monetary and regulatory policies will support communities across the country. He even asked Moore for a list of other towns and cities in America that he would also characterize as armpits of the country.

“If nominated or confirmed, it would be your job to carefully consider monetary policy and regulatory policies that support communities throughout the country — even those you apparently consider beneath you,” Brown said. “Based on your bias against communities across the heartland of our country, it’s clear that you lack the judgment to make important decisions in their best interest.”

Brown’s letter follows several media reports about controversial statements Moore has made about economic policy, as well as other hot button political issues. At the time Trump announced his intention to nominate Moore, some Senate Republicans were surprised by the nomination, but did not say they had reasons yet to oppose him.

In response to questions by American Banker about the disparaging remarks, a spokesperson for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said, "If Stephen Moore meant that as a joke, it was a bad one."

"If the president nominates him, Rob will carefully review his record and qualifications for the role," the spokesperson said.

Another potential controversial Fed candidate, Herman Cain, recently withdrew his name to be considered for the post. Earlier this month, four Republican senators said they wouldn’t support Cain’s nomination, which doomed his chances of getting confirmed.

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