Bernanke Confirmed for Second Term by 70-30 Vote

The Senate voted to confirm a second term for Federal Reserve Chairman -- and Time Person of the Year -- Ben Bernanke.

After the Senate voted 77-23 to move ahead with the confirmation, Jay Cost of Real Clear Politics tweeted that the Senate just voted for cloture on Ben Bernanke's confirmation. Immediately thereafter came the tweet from Jim DeMint:  "By confirming Bernanke, the Senate rubber-stamped a failed economic policy."  Perhaps, but what was the alternative?


Throwing markets into turmoil as we toss Bernanke aside and start over?  What sort of qualified candidates does Senator DeMint think we'll get, after he's punished one of the world's greatest experts on financial crises for, well, being in office when one happened?  More frightening to contemplate: what sort of candidate would have been confirmable if Bernanke's nomination had failed?  It's getting harder and harder to get people into office, especially in finance, where any nominee who knows anything is too apt to have ties to the banking industry, or have employed a nanny without paying social security taxes, or have some other disqualifying flaw that doesn't actually have much bearing on their ability to do the job.

Bernanke's current policies would have to be much more terrible than they are to justify throwing him out of office without even a suitable replacement in mind.  It would be one thing if Democrats (or Republicans, for that matter) had been carefully grooming a substitute with an excellent resume and a good shot at confirmation.  But the "no" votes are, in my perhaps cynical view, more about what happened in Massachusetts last week than about any coherent policy agenda.  That's not a good way to make decisions, and the likely outcome would have been greatly inferior to whatever you think is going to happen in a second Bernanke term.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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