January 22nd, 2010
01:42 PM ET
8 years ago

Bernanke nomination uncertain

A second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke became more uncertain on Friday.

A second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke became more uncertain on Friday.

Washington (CNN) - A second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke became more uncertain Friday as two leading liberal senators announced they would vote no, and many other Senate Democrats said they were undecided.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, both issued statements announcing their opposition to Bernanke.

"Under the watch of Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve permitted grossly irresponsible financial activities that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Under Chairman Bernanke's watch predatory mortgage lending flourished, and 'too big to fail' financial giants were permitted to engage in activities that put our nation's economy at risk," said Feingold.

Sen. Boxer said she's voting no because 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," she said.

Democratic concern about Bernanke boiled over in a private lunch of all Democrats on Wednesday, the day after Democrats lost a Massachusetts Senate seat.

A senior Democratic source familiar with meeting said it got "raucous" as several Senate Democrats stood up and voiced opposition to confirming Bernanke for another term.

The Senate Democrats' vote counter, Dick Durbin, told CNN that enough Democrats have either stated outright opposition or deep concern, and that they will likely have to rely heavily on GOP votes to approve Bernanke again.

"I just think there is some uncertainty here, and we don't know from the Republican side whether they can provide votes," said Durbin.

Bernanke does have bipartisan support. Four Republicans joined Democrats in voting yes in the Senate Banking Committee last month.

The Senate would need 60 votes to approve Bernanke to overcome opposition from several senators, including Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, who is leading the charge against him.

When Bernanke was confirmed for his first term in 2006 under President Bush, there was no opposition. The senate approved his nomination by unanimous consent.

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, who will vote for Bernanke, told CNN he believes the anti-Wall Street fervor that senators are hearing from constituents, and that played out in the Massachusetts special election, is having an effect.

"The Tuesday election results have caused a little angst," said Baucus.

Durbin tried to downplay the effect Democrats losing Massachusetts is having on Bernanke's fate.

"We have a number of Democrats who have already said they are not going to support him," said Durbin.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota said she has not decided how she will vote.

"Like everyone else I have serious concerns about what happened in the past, on the other hand, he's had to basically steer us through this crisis and I have found him to be honest in hearings, so I am going to look at the whole record." Said Klobuchar.

Senator Tom Harkin is undecided about Bernanke too.

"I am cogitating on it right now," Harkin said.

Harkin said he has deep concerns about Bernanke's past performance "during the period of time when these investment banks were running amok."

"I just have some uneasy feelings that his mindset is not where we need to be in terms of the Federal Reserve right now." said Harkin. "He has a lot of baggage he carries.

When asked if Harkin has gotten any calls from the White House pressuring him to vote yes, he said no, then joked "after this interview I will."

The White House is up against a tight timetable. Bernanke's term runs out January 31.

Aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs emphasized the president is standing by his decision to re-nominate the Bush-era Fed Chief.

"He has a great deal in confidence in what Chairman Bernanke did to bring our economy back from the brink. And he continues to think that he's the best person for the job, and will be confirmed by the United States Senate," said Gibbs.

Filed under: Barbara Boxer • Ben Bernanke • Russ Feingold
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Right Leaning Independent

    How about all of the idiots that took out mortgages they could not afford? Are they not responsible for the financial meltdown too???

    January 22, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. CAL

    I agree with all the senators who said no to this guy. He stood by and let the banks run a muck, he should not be put back in this positon

    January 22, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Vic of New York

    The question to be answered is this: To what extent was Bernanke a pawn of the Bush Administration idiot-ology, and to what extent was he a part of it.

    Until that question is answered I'll hold my opinion.

    January 22, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. ted

    I have never felt Bernanke has had a good grip on the FED. Greenspan and Volker have been better, but they had their issues as well. Ben is an academic and should have stayed at Princeton

    January 22, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. Annie, Atlanta

    Why would we want the guy back who was either ignoring what was happening on Wall Street or chose to look the other way? It's nice to see our elected officials finally getting a clue. Maybe?

    January 22, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Connie Brighten

    Feingold and Boxer, look before you leap. Who are you expecting to find who can do a better job? Maybe Obama himself can do that with his other hat? Or maybe Boxer after she is no longer a senator (Nov 2010).

    January 22, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. andy

    agreed. enough said about the worst failure since the great depression.

    January 22, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Rob Johnson

    Of all the mid-course corrections that Obama clearly needs to make, none is more important than cracking down on Wall Street, and that is hard to do with Wall Street creations like Bernanke and Geithner.

    I think the President needs to send a clear message to the angry populists in this country that he is on the side of the people, not the powerful. Cleaning house at the Fed would be a good start.

    January 22, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. Wisconsonite

    I'm right there with MY Senator Feingold! Not only does Bernanke need to be replaced, so does Geitner! And Summars. I really think that President Obama needs to do some house cleaning in his cabinet.

    January 22, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Travis

    Barney makes banks give out questionable loans and fellow democrats then yell at banks for preditor lending when they default. What a joke. Boxer and Barney need to go home first.

    January 22, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. jenn, philadelphia

    And how did these same Senators vote during confirmation on Tim Geitner? He was part of the group of regulators who did nothing to rein in Wall Street. If Senator Feinstein wants a break from the failed economic policies of the past, she shouldn't be running for re-election as she was part of the do nothing Congress that rubber-stamped everything the Bush Administration did.

    January 22, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. aware

    Do you think the man who caused the problem then lied about it can fix it? 😦

    January 22, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. David

    The Fedearl Reserve must be abolished!!! It is not a Federal agency and is not a Reserve. They create money backed by nothing. And they are responsible for the economic woes of this country and they have been since its inception. They are a privately held stock and the majority of the holders of the stock are not American and will never give up the stock or allow the Fed to be audited.

    January 22, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. ClassicalLiberal

    No, No, No!!! Call your representatives and demand that they vote NO on Helicopter Ben. Demand that there should be no vote for cloture, period, until they have a straight up or down vote on a full audit of the Fed! You have the potential for power, people, now take it back!

    In Liberty,


    January 22, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. The One

    Looks like his own Democrats are trying to embarrass President Obama. With friends like Boxer, who needs Republicans?

    January 22, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Bernanke is the best person for the job and should remain in place as we continue climbing out of these troubled times.

    January 22, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. Linda

    Hope Mr Bernanke enjoyed getting "thrown under the bus"

    January 22, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. Scott in Atlanta

    FYI, the Stock market fell when Brown won in Mass!!! Wallstreet knows that now the Republicans will be able to grind legislation to a hault and end any of Obamas economy-growing programs.

    January 22, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  19. Tony

    Toss Bernanke out! He's clearly incompetent.

    January 22, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. Fernando

    Out with the old, in with the new.

    Bring on someone who will take on the tough decisions instead of just pander to the rich.

    January 22, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. Nimish

    As much as we don't like it, Bernanke single handedly saved the system from unknown peril. It's funny how two senators that voted for both packages now turn on Ben B – right after the MA vote. Ben's not the problem – and the Fed isn't in charge of all the activities they claim his "watch" permitted to happen

    January 22, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  22. Aunt Bea and Opie

    This guy has weasel written all over his face,he was only kept so he could rat out all the other crooks he worked with and take a plea deal.

    January 22, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. J in NJ


    January 22, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. Steve in North Carolina

    If Barbara Boxer is against him, I'm for him.

    January 22, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. I'm Rush Limbaugh and I say . . .

    If the Democratic party want to regain some support, dump this bush holdover.

    January 22, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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