Why Trump’s Pick For Chair Of The Federal Reserve Matters To Workers

The Fed's decisions have a huge impact on families like mine.

We are quickly approaching the 10-year anniversary of the great recession. At the tail end of the longest economic recovery in our country’s history, millions of families across the country are still waiting for the recovery to reach them.

As Trump prepares to announce his pick for the next Federal Reserve Chair, and packs the rest of the powerful Board of Governors with his picks, those families’ futures are on the line. And we’re worried.

Although the latest news is that Trump will choose Jerome Powell as Fed Chair, Trump has led us to believe that he will stack the rest of the Fed with individuals who will dissolve the protections put in place to prevent another financial crash – people who have no trouble disregarding the well-being of American workers to promote the interests of Wall Street. In fact, one of the rumored top contender for the second highest position at the Fed, the Vice-Chair, is John Taylor, someone whose name is synonymous with a rule that would require higher interest rates and limit the Fed’s ability to stimulate the economy.

This may seem like an obscure debate. But I care about the Federal Reserve and those appointed to it because I understand that the Fed’s decisions have a huge impact on my life. For families like mine, the great recession was not that long ago. I am one of the millions of people that continue to work and struggle in this economy every single day. While many have recovered, too many of us were left behind. We can’t afford Taylor because we can’t afford another crash – and someone who doesn’t care about all of us whose lives are shattered by Wall Street’s crimes.

Like so many, I struggled severely during the financial crisis. A single mother of a beautiful eight-year-old girl, I worked two jobs to make ends meet – full-time at a leasing agency and part time at Marshall’s. When the economy crashed, I was laid off from my full-time job. Left with a third of my income to provide for my family, I decided to invest in myself and return to school. I enrolled in cosmetology school, attended a community college, and earned an associates degree in business operations – all while working nights at my part-time job. My sister was also underemployed, so we moved in together to make rent.

Everything is harder when you don’t make enough money. You’re spread too thin trying to pay bills, cook meals, buy clothes for your children, do homework, and still earn an income. Of the many sacrifices I’ve made on the road to economic recovery, the one that pains me the most are the hours I had to spend away from my daughter. I will never get that time back.

I felt like the world was upside down – like nobody was listening to how bad the job market was. Congress and the White House were too busy fighting each other to care about working families. John Taylor was screaming about inflation and arguing we should care about that instead of jobs while nearly 10% of us were unemployed. Soon the conversation in Washington simply moved on, leaving millions of Americans stranded. John Taylor still argues that the Fed did too much to help working people during this period, and maintains that he wouldn’t have kept interest rates low to stimulate job growth. 

Thankfully, John Taylor wasn’t in charge, Janet Yellen was. Fed chair Janet Yellen took action and stood firm to create jobs. She refused to overlook an eight-percent unemployment and 17-percent black unemployment. The Fed kept interest rates low, and the economy started to grow again. I found a full-time job and was able to move out on my own again, spend more time with my daughter, and build us a better life.

Meanwhile, Taylor, Trump’s rumored favorite for Fed Vice-Chair, was wrong about every major policy question the Fed faced prior to and during the great recession. John Taylor still supports rolling back the financial protections that Yellen and others put in place after Wall Street wrecked the economy, and is best known for proposing the Fed set interest rates through the so-called “Taylor Rule.” Economists estimate that if the “Taylor Rule had been in place over the past five years, 2.5 million fewer jobs would have been created. Powell is not an economist by training, and many fear that even if Powell is Fed Chair and Taylor is Vice-Chair, Powell will defer to Taylor’s discredited ideology and Taylor will do just as much damage to families like mine.

Whoever is the next Fed Chair, people like John Taylor, who have been wrong about rate hikes, inflation, and what working families need, should not be allowed anywhere near the Federal Reserve in any position.

I want everyone to understand what Trump’s choice for leadership at the Fed would mean. It’s the difference between having a home for my family or not. It’s the difference between being with my child or being forced to be away from her. It’s the difference between a full recovery and another financial crisis.

For families like mine, John Taylor is the wrong choice.

Evelyn Lewis is the Operations Director at the Pansy Willis Project in Charlotte, NC and a member of Fed Up, the national campaign for full employment, rising wages, and a more accountable Federal Reserve.