On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee

On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee
© Greg Nash

Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL--Trump criticizes Fed for rate hikes in break with precedent: President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE on Thursday criticized the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates and accused Chairman Jerome Powell of hindering the U.S. economy with the bank's monetary policy.

Trump told CNBC that he's "not thrilled" with Powell, who he appointed to lead the Fed, because he has gradually raised interest rates. The president insisted that higher interest rates have prevented the economy from expanding to its full potential.

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"We go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. I don't really -- I am not happy about it. But at the same time I'm letting them do what they feel is best," Trump said. 

"I don't like all of this work that we're putting into the economy and then I see rates going up."

Trump's comments are a stunning rebuke of the Fed from a sitting president. The Fed was designed to be immune from political influence in its efforts to encourage low unemployment and stable prices. I've got more on Trump's comments, and what they mean for the Fed, right here.

 

Why it matters: Presidents have historically avoided putting direct pressure on the Fed, and White House economists typically avoid commenting on the central bank's monetary policy.

Trump acknowledged that his comments broke with decades of precedent, but said he didn't care about the criticism it would provoke.

"I'm just saying the same thing that I would have said as a private citizen," Trump said. "So somebody would say, 'Oh, maybe you shouldn't say that as president.' I couldn't care less what they say, because my views haven't changed."

The Fed has raised interest rates twice in 2018, and is expected to issue at least two more rate hikes before the end of the year.

Lawmakers have expressed worries that Trump could try to pressure Powell to keep rates low ahead of the elections in a bid to keep unemployment down.

His critics cite former President Nixon's pressure on former Fed Chairman Arthur Burns to hold off on rate hikes ahead of the 1972 election, which economists say led to rampant inflation.



LEADING THE DAY

Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy: The nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday refused to discuss her involvement in the administration's family-separation policy during her Senate confirmation hearing.

Kathleen Kraninger told the Senate Banking Committee that she played "no role in setting" the administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy, but would not discuss how she influenced its rollout.

"I don't think it's appropriate, frankly, or fair or right for me to articulate the advice that I have given, or to characterize the discussion that others may have had or brought to the table," Kraninger said during Thursday's confirmation hearing.

Kraninger is widely supported by Senate Republicans, who believe she'll continue efforts by CFPB Acting Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySunday shows preview: Trump stokes intel feud over clearances Pentagon, GOP breathe sign of relief after Trump cancels parade Middle-class Americans can't afford another trillion financial crash MORE to roll back the agency's powers. Mulvaney has rallied GOP senators to back Kraninger to help pave her way to confirmation.

But Democrats on the Banking Committee have demanded answers from Kraninger regarding her possible involvement in the Trump administration's immigration policy and its response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. On Thursday, she refused to describe her role in either matter.

Kraninger insisted that it wasn't appropriate for her to reveal her recommendations or internal administration discussions, a response that enraged some Democrats.

"It is fundamentally immoral and you were part of it, Ms. Kraninger," said Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBoogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems Overnight Health Care: Senate takes up massive HHS spending bill next week | Companies see no sign of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump claims | Manchin hits opponent on ObamaCare lawsuit Elizabeth Warren and the new communism MORE (D-Mass.). "It is a moral stain that will follow you for the rest of your life. And if the Senate votes to give a big promotion to you after this, then it will be a stain on the senators who do so." I take you to the contentious hearing right here.

 

Reactions:

 

Ex-Im nominee sales through hearing: While Kraninger was skewered by Democrats today, President Trump's nominee to be president of the Export-Import Bank was widely praised by most committee members and appears safe for confirmation.

Kimberly Reed faced few tough questions and received plenty of laudatory comments from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who want to see the Ex-Im Bank operate at full force.

The Hill's Vicki Needham tells us more here about the battle over Ex-Im, and why Reed's easy ascension is a major shift after years of battles over the export subsidizer.

 

Senate panel advances Trump IRS nominee: The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday advanced President Trump's nominee to lead the IRS, with Democrats voting against the pick to voice their opposition to new IRS guidance that they're concerned poses a national security risk.

The committee approved Charles Rettig's nomination to be IRS commissioner on a party line vote of 14-13.

Both Republicans and Democrats said they think Rettig -- a California tax attorney who has spent his career representing taxpayers in disputes with the IRS -- is a qualified nominee.

But while Democrats also praised Rettig's background, they decided to vote against him because of guidance released late Monday by the Treasury Department and IRS. The guidance limits some tax-exempt groups' disclosure of donor information to the agency. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda explains here.

 

MARKET CHECK: CNBC: "Stocks fell on Thursday amid criticism of the Federal Reserve by President Donald Trump. A decline in bank shares also pushed the broader market down.

"The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 134.79 points to close at 25,064.50, with Travelers Cos. and American Express lagging. The S&P 500 slipped 0.4 percent to 2,804.49, with financials dropping more than 1 percent. The Nasdaq Composite also pulled back 0.4 percent to 7,825.30."

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Senate and House leaders have struck a deal to bolster the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), according to Bloomberg.
  • The House on Thursday passed a package of two 2019 appropriations bills, marking the halfway point in its quest to pass the 12 annual spending bills needed to fund the government.
  • China on Wednesday said it was "shocking" for a U.S. official to blame Chinese President Xi Jinping for escalating trade tensions between the two countries.
  • Manufacturers across the U.S. expressed concern to the Federal Reserve about tariffs, with many reporting higher prices and supply-chain disruptions in the wake of new trade policies, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Many along Wall Street expect the rally that began in March 2009 to eclipse the 1990-2000 run that ended with the dot-com crash. But a growing number of experts are questioning whether the stock market's run will keep going through 2019 and beyond, according to the AP.
  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee offered legislation on Thursday to make improvements to the IRS, as the panel voted along party lines to advance President Trump's pick to lead the agency.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • An immigrant rights group turned down a $250,000 donation from Salesforce on Thursday because of the company's contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  • Amazon's stock market value reached $900 billion on Wednesday for the first time, according to Reuters.
  • Starbucks is opening its first U.S. cafe staffed by employees who are partially or fully deaf, allowing customers to order in American Sign Language (ASL).
  • The House passed a nonbinding measure Thursday to denounce a carbon tax, calling it "detrimental" to the United States.