Days after Donald Trump claimed that Fed Chair Janet Yellen should be "ashamed" for keeping interest rates low because of political pressure from the Obama administration, vice presidential nominee and Indiana Governor Mike Pence defended his running mate's comments as a defense of working people against an administration that favors the finance industry.
In an interview on Thursday with Erin Burnett on the CNN show "OutFront," Pence declined to second Trump's claims that Yellen was bowing to political pressure, but he said, "I just think it's very curious to see the Federal Reserve continue to resist efforts to respond in the marketplace in a way that puts the interest of middle class families first."
I think it's hard to understand why the Fed continues to advance policies that really work for hedge fund managers on Wall Street, here in New York City, but really aren't working for working families on Main Street. I think Donald Trump is saying that it's time that we brought forward the kind of economic policies that will allow interest rates to return to a rational point.
Yellen and the Fed have been regular punching bags for Trump, who earlier in September claimed that the Fed's low interest rate policy had created a "very false economy" and that, "The only thing that is strong is the artificial stock market.”
In response to his suggestions that the Fed was not independent from White House influence, Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari went on CNBC at the time to refute the nominee’s claim. He said that the Fed’s decisions are rooted in economic data and that "[p]olitics simply does not come up” in Fed meetings.
More colorfully, Trump's claims of political interference prompted the Dallas Mavericks billionaire owner Mark Cuban to note that Trump's comments on the Federal Reserve showed "exactly why the market will tank if he is elected."
Pence used the CNN interview opportunity to say that he was "starting to get a whiff of desperation from the other side" because of comments like those from the Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who on the Senate floor called Trump a "spoiled brat," "a con artist," and a "human leech who will bleed the country."
Pence also reiterated the Trump campaign claim that the Republican nominee wouldn't release his tax returns until the IRS finished a current audit, a stance that's been challenged in recent days by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who's offered to donate up to $5 million to veterans groups if Trump releases the returns by October 19.
Pence added that he didn't think many people cared about Trump's taxes anyway.
"I don't hear a lot of people talking about tax returns," he said. "I think he's been very forthcoming about saying that he'll reveal those tax returns when a routine audit is done."