Despite Critics, Bernanke Reconfirmed in Senate Banking Committee

'Person of the Year' Bernanke leaps over one hurdle on the way toward reconfirmation

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On Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee voted 16-7 to confirm Fed chairman Ben Bernanke for another term, sending the confirmation into the full Senate. Bernanke, recently having been named Time Magazine's Person of the Year (to much disapproval), is disparaged by critics for having helped foster the financial crisis and is praised by admirers for deftly handling the crisis aftermath. Keen observers of the theatrics surrounding his confirmation are dissecting the motives of the lone Democrat who opposed Bernanke's confirmation, and debating the surge in Republican opposition since the chairman's first confirmation round in 2005.

  • A Lot of No-Votes, and One Democrat The Cunning Realist, a financial professional, writes that "the vote today was notable, both for the sheer number of 'no' votes and for the way some individual senators voted." Jeff Merkley, the only Democrat voting against Bernanke, drew particular attention: "
  • Actually, the Story is the Republican Opposition Joseph Lawler at The American Spectator notices that Senator Bunning (R-KY) "was the only Senator to go on the record as opposing Bernanke's confirmation in 2005 ... It's interesting to see that in the intervening period the Bush-nominated Bernanke has earned himself opposition that, while bipartisan, skews heavily Republican."
  • This Is Getting Closer The New York Times' Brian Knowlton also looks back at Bernanke's 2005 confirmation, noticing that, "this time," Senator Bunning had company opposing Bernanke.
  • Unsurprising Result--Little Congressional Interest in Crisis The chief objections to Bernanke revolved around his involvement in the policies some felt led to the financial crisis. But Americablog's Chris Ryan points out that, "considering how little Congress has done to address the economic crisis, it's obvious there is very limited interest in addressing the problems that led to the crisis." Today's result, therefore, is "hardly a surprise."
  • Bloggers Quoted by Politicians, Remain Sharply Divided Sen. Vitter (R-LA) read out questions from three prominent economics bloggers--Mark Thoma, Brad DeLong, and Simon Johnson--when examining the chairman during the hearing. Sen. Bunning's decision to quote a blogger when criticizing Bernanke also provoked online debate in the past few days. Bloggers who are even remotely accustomed to discussing economics and politics retain strong opinions on the topic of the Fed chairman. Matthew Yglesias, reviewing Bernanke's answer to one hearing question, says it "reminds us both of why people like Ben Bernanke--he's an intelligence and honest public servant--and also of why I've been complaining about Ben Bernanke." Brad DeLong remains convinced that Bernanke "has done better as Fed Chair than I would have, or indeed that almost everyone I can think of would have."
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