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

Bernanke nomination uncertain

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/22/art.bernanke2.gi.jpg caption="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. Sorensen

    Mr. Bernanke does not look like a leader.
    He does not talk like a leader.
    He does not act like a leader.
    He presided over total and corrupt disaster in the market.
    He is probably a very bright academic.
    He should return to that.

    January 22, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    This man of the year should not be confirmed again. In fact if congress really wants to help the American citizen they should pass the Audit the Fed bill that has been pending now for nearly two years.
    The Federal Reserve Bank isa for profit private bank, it is not under the direct control of our government, yet they can print money out of thin air? They can add to our National debt. They are suppose to be the first line of defense of our economy. What great job they were doing back in 2007 and 2008 huh?

    January 22, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Padraig

    I hope the President does not re-nominate Mr. Bernanke. What needs to be done is have an audit performed on the reserve to determine if there have been any illegal actions. When a Chairman refuses or criticizes the request for an audit then there is somehting very wrong.

    The auditors should come in and go through each and every transaction, as U.S. citizens and taxpayers we all should know what is happenig with our money.

    January 22, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. JES

    Time to find another job.

    January 22, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. billy123

    Great if President George W. Bush appointed him he has to go.

    January 22, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    I would not be surprised if the repubs do not support fellow republican Bernanke, in the hopes of destroying Wall Street to embarrass President Obama.

    January 22, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. seymore, pa

    He has done a terrible job. Find someone else.

    January 22, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. Demo

    Dear Barbara, I, as a democrat, no let me rephrase that, i as an American am sick and tired of you people blaming Bush for all that is going wrong with this country. Could you please tell me who voted to confirm Mr. Bernanke the first time? Once again nothing but an attempt to deflect your own responsibility and complicity in the problems we are having. Maybe you and Barney Frank can get together and blame the former President for your lack of integrity. After all IT MUST BE BUSH'S FAULT, everything else is in your eyes.

    January 22, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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