During Fox Business' November 10 Republican presidential debate, moderator Sandra Smith asked GOP hopeful former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) if he disagreed enough with Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen to “change leadership at the Fed,” an action that is explicitly illegal.
Huckabee, a former Fox News employee and two-time presidential candidate, opened his response with an arguably sexist joke before asserting that he would “absolutely” support Smith's proposed change of leadership, joining other GOP aspirants -- Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) -- in attacking the nation's central bank. Huckabee confusingly blamed the Federal Reserve for wage stagnation that has been observed across four decades of fluctuating interest rate policy, and suggested that the United States return to policies like the outdated gold standard, which Washington Post Wonkblog economic reporter Matthew O'Brien once called "the world's worst economic idea."
Janet Yellen, a decorated economist appointed by President Obama in 2014, serves as the head of an independent government agency in a four-year term ending February 3, 2018. A future president may choose not to re-appoint Yellen as chairwoman, but a member of the Fed's Board of Governors cannot be removed from their post because of policy disagreements:
Once appointed, Governors may not be removed from office for their policy views. The lengthy terms and staggered appointments are intended to contribute to the insulation of the Board--and the Federal Reserve System as a whole--from day-to-day political pressures to which it might otherwise be subject.
Does Fox Business not understand that it is illegal to remove Federal Reserve officials simply because a particular politician or president disagrees with them?
In 2013, Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed that Yellen was a “shoo-in” to be the next Fed chair because she is a woman, ignoring her qualifications and broad support for her from other economists. Now, Fox Business moderator Sandra Smith is asking whether or not the next president will fire one of the most influential people in the world, despite the fact that doing so would be illegal.
Watch the full exchange between Smith and Huckabee below:
SANDRA SMITH (MODERATOR): Governor Huckabee, both Senator Santorum and Governor Christie were both critical of the Federal Reserve. Also, many have questioned whether Janet Yellen is the right person to be running the Fed. If elected president, would you keep Janet Yellen?
MIKE HUCKABEE: Look, I think the Fed's in a big trouble [sic] because they haven't addressed the number one issue that's hurting Americans, and that's the fact that wages for the bottom 90 percent of the economy have been stagnant for 40 years. In the 25 years after World War II, up to 1971, wages grew by 85 percent in this country. People were moving up in the middle class. There was a middle class. That's not happening anymore. And, in large measure, the Fed has manipulated the dollar so it doesn't have a standard.
SMITH: So, would you change leadership at the Fed?
HUCKABEE: Absolutely. Absolutely, because what we need to do is to make sure that they tie the monetary standard to something that makes sense, rather than to their own whims.