This morning, the Senate banking committee voted 16 to 7 to reconfirm Ben Bernanke as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Now the full Senate must also agree that Bernanke should keep his job. I was watching a news show this morning that implied the Senate could balk and decide not to give the Fed chair a second term. That's just sensationalist banter, however. There's no way Bernanke's reconfirmation will fail.
Don't get me wrong: I think there are a fair number of Senators on both side of the aisle that do not like the job Bernanke has done. Some wish he'd anticipated the crisis better and taken more action sooner. Others think he hasn't done enough to help Main Street recover and reduce the very high unemployment rate. But it wouldn't be Washington without politics.
Let's look at the situation from each political party. First, would Democrats really spurn President Obama by rejecting his nomination? That would weaken the President's credibility in the eyes of the public. It would also make the party appear to be strongly divided. There's no way a majority of Democrats would let that happen.
How about Republicans? They might love to stick one to Obama, right? Not under this circumstance. If they reject Bernanke, then Obama gets to pick someone new. Remember President George W. Bush appointed Bernanke, who identifies himself as a Republican. Do Republicans really believe they'll be happier with a different Obama pick than Bernanke? If they do, then they're kidding themselves. Deep down, they must believe they would be a lot better off with Bernanke than any alternative the President might suggest.
Those who vote against Bernanke will likely be fringe figures in either party who throw politics to the wind. That's a precious few, and certainly not enough to create a filibuster. So the next time you hear news pundits going on and on about how there's a chance that Bernanke might not get reappointed, you might as well turn down the volume, because they're talking nonsense.
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