Fed chairman Bernanke confirmed for second term

The Senate voted to confirm Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve today, but it was hardly a ringing endorsement:

The 70 to 30 vote was the thinnest approval ever extended to a chairman in the central bank’s 96-year history.

The confirmation was a victory for President Obama, who had called Mr. Bernanke an architect of the recovery, but also signaled the extent to which the Fed, once little known to the public, has become the object of populist outrage over high unemployment and Wall Street bailouts.

In several hours of debate, senators said the Fed had abetted, then ignored, the housing and credit bubbles and allowed banks to keep dangerously low capital reserves and to make reckless lending decisions that ruined consumers. Some even blamed Mr. Bernanke for the falling dollar and questioned his commitment to free enterprise.

In contrast, Mr. Bernanke’s supporters were muted. Like a mantra, they said that the Fed had made mistakes but that Mr. Bernanke had helped save the economy from a far worse recession.

Eleven Democrats, 18 Republicans and independent Bernie Sanders voted against confirming Bernanke (roll call here).

Senators of both parties who opposed Bernanke said his monetary policy and poor oversight contributed to the financial meltdown of 2008. Various Democrats who voted against Bernanke said he had been too beholden to Wall Street interests.

I still think it was a mistake for Obama to nominate Bernanke for another term, but let’s hope the Fed chairman our mild-mannered economic overlord improves on the job.

UPDATE: MIT economist Simon Johnson argues that Bernanke’s reappointment was “a colossal failure of governance.” Worth a read.

SECOND UPDATE: Bleeding Heartland user ragbrai08 notes that seven senators voted for cloture (allowing the Senate to proceed to consider Bernanke’s nomination) before voting against confirming him. Here is the roll call on the cloture vote. The senators who voted for cloture but against Bernanke are Democrats Tom Harkin, Barbara Boxer (CA), Byron Dorgan (ND), Al Franken (MN), Ted Kaufman (DE), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), along with Republican George LeMieux (FL).

  • Disagree

    Just because you oppose a nomination doesn’t mean you should throw up every roadblock you can to block it unless you are talking about extreme and rare circumstances like Bork.  If you can honestly lobby enough people to your side then go ahead and try to block it, but the United States Senate moves slow enough.  

  • I opposed a filibuster of Alito

    Had I been in the United States Senate I would have likely voted for both Roberts and Alito.  You have to take the nominations on a case by case basis.

    The arguments that are made during a filibuster of Bernake are things that most U.S. Senators have already heard unless you’re a nit wit like George Allen who had no idea who Bernake was.

    The only people who honestly listen to arguments on the Senate floor are probably Snowe, Collins, Lugar and Voinovich a few moderates in our caucus.  The rest of them have their minds made up.  Specter use to look at both sides of an issue but he isn’t allowed to do that anymore given that PA law allows ten percent of the electorate on the fringe to control his electoral future.  

  • Yes, I believe in using a filibuster in extreme circumstances

    I cited Bork anove.  I personally would have loved to see anti-free traders like myself put a bigger fight against stuff like CAFTA, bur most filibusters are largely ineffective and just aggravate partisans on either side.  A filibuster against Bernake would have been stupid and I would have been fine with either result of his confirmation.  As dmd has let us discuss on here several times and I agree with folks that say Geithner (sp?) is the larger issue when it comes to our current economic woes if you ask me.  Larry Summers as well even though I may agree with Summers more often then some likelydo on this blog.  

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