Campus News

Potential Trump nominee’s speech goes smoothly despite small protest

Protesters: Madison is ‘ground zero’ for opposing potential Fed Chair pick

UW-Madison students and community members held a banner denouncing potential Fed Chair nominee John Taylor.

Image By: Jon Yoon

A prominent economist — seen by many as the frontrunner to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve — spoke on UW-Madison’s campus Thursday, drawing a small protest organized by an outside group that opposes the speaker’s ideology.

John Taylor, a Stanford economist and conservative pioneer in the field, is seen by many on the left as a dangerous choice for Fed chair. The Center for Popular Democracy, a national group, organized the Madison protest along with campus group Student Coalition for Progress. It took place outside Grainger Hall, where Taylor was speaking.

Taylor’s speech itself drew a large crowd, despite being delayed by an issue with the economist’s flight. Chancellor Rebecca Blank was in attendance for the event, which included a speech and a question-and-answer session with previously-vetted questions.

Protest organizers attended the event after handing out flyers outside denouncing Taylor. Some were disappointed that they were not able to ask questions of the speaker but said the main point of the protest was to raise awareness about Taylor’s ideology.

“We’re out here in support of working people,” said Beth Alleman, a UW-Madison student protester and an organizer with Indivisible Madison. “Our country can’t handle [Taylor as Fed Chair]. It would be a huge blow to the middle and lower class.”

Shawn Sebastian, who works for the Center for Popular Democracy’s Fed Up Campaign, said it was important to protest the event because the Federal Reserve chair is “the most powerful position in the economy” and Taylor “subscribes to an ideology that is anti-jobs.”

“He has formulated a rule called the Taylor Rule, and according to an analysis by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, if that rule was followed the past five years … we would have 2.5 million fewer jobs,” Sebastian said.

The protesters criticized not only Taylor’s ideas, but also the event’s funding — the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy, which receives money from billionaire brothers and prominent conservative activists Charles and David Koch, paid for the speech to take place.

Sebastian also noted that in the fight to prevent President Donald Trump from nominating Taylor, Madison is “ground zero.” Trump is expected to make a decision by next week.

However, the protest, which failed to attract a large cohort of students, was dwarfed by the number of people at the speech itself. Protesters noted that a hearing about voter ID laws and other political events occurred Thursday night as well and may have prevented more students from coming out.

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