President Donald Trump confirmed Thursday that he’s leaning toward nominating restaurateur-turned-politician Herman Cain for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board.
“I’ve told my folks that’s the man,” Trump said in an offhand remark Thursday to reporters, as reported by a number of media.
The nomination would be controversial because Cain dropped out of the race to become the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in 2011 amid allegations he had sexually harassed women in his past, going back to the years he led the National Restaurant Association. Cain maintained that the allegations were unfounded.
Other critics have questioned Cain’s suitability for the Fed post, where he’d help in regulating the rate of growth of the nation’s economy. They point to the economic plan that Cain aired during his abbreviated run for the White House, a three-part strategy he dubbed 9-9-9: Replacing the nation’s current tax structure with flat 9% assessments on personal and corporate income and levying a 9% national sales tax. The plan was widely dismissed as a gimmicky campaign promise with little practicality.
But supporters have noted that Cain served on the board of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank for four years, including one year as chairman.
Cain is widely remembered in the restaurant industry for his 10-year leadership of Godfather’s Pizza and subsequent tenure as president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. Before rising to those permanent leadership positions at the association, Cain was elected to serve as chairman, a rotating post held for a year by an operator-member of the group.
He rose to national prominence during that time by confronting President Bill Clinton at a televised town hall-type meeting. Cain contended that a universal healthcare plan being championed at the time by Clinton would essentially destroy businesses like Godfather’s. The public challenge became a widely aired sound bite on news broadcasts.
After Cain left the restaurant industry in the late 1990s, he hosted a radio program in his native Atlanta and ran unsuccessfully for several elected offices.
Trump, who has been critical of the Fed’s policies, called Cain “truly an outstanding individual.
“I would think he would do very well there," the president said.
As one of seven directors of the Fed, Cain would have a voice in setting the interest rates that banks are charged. Rates are hiked to slow economic growth and temper inflation, or lowered to stimulate borrowing and capital investment and thereby promote economic growth.