Not so long ago, it seemed like confirmation of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was a given. True: He had been asleep at the wheel as the subprime crisis mounted, and, in fact, during the entirety of his term during the Bush administration, but so was most everyone else, and at least Bernanke had managed to jerk awake at the last moment, pull the wheel over, and steer us all to safety (at least for the time being). But now, with populist rage hanging thick in the air and politicians desperate to convince their constituents that they are serious about Wall Street regulation, for real this time, it is seeming increasingly unlikely that he'll get the 60 votes he needs by January 31. This morning, Democratic Senators Russ Feingold and Barbara Boxer announced that they would join the growing band of senators voting against him.
Here's Boxer's statement:
“I have a lot of respect for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. When the financial crisis hit in late 2008, he took some important steps to prevent what many economists believe could have been an even greater economic catastrophe.“However, it is time for a change - it is time for Main Street to have a champion at the Fed. Dr. Bernanke played a lead role in crafting the Bush administration’s economic policies, which led to the current economic crisis. Our next Federal Reserve Chairman must represent a clean break from the failed policies of the past.”
Neither senator elaborated on who they have in mind for a no-strings, clean-break, genius of a Fed chairman (If Bernanke isn't confirmed, the post will be filled by Vice-Chairman Donald Kohn, a decidedly less distinguished academic and fellow Bush appointee, until everyone can agree on a replacement). But we're guessing the senator from California, at least, has an outside-the-box pick in mind. How about Conan O'Brien? He has some free time these days.
2 Key Senators Oppose a Second Term for Bernanke [NYT]
Senate Dems Not Sure They Can Get Enough Votes to Reconfirm Bernanke [Jake Effing Tapper/ABC]
Boxer Statement on the Nomination of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke [Official site]