January 28, 2010

Bernanke back(ed)

What does the re-appointment of Ben Bernanke, by a 70-30 Senate vote, say about the Senate?

I'm not sure it says too much of anything at this point, and unless you are an economic policy wonk, it won't make a whit of difference, unlike the anemic State of the Union address last night, which will have an impact on voters (more to come on that). But it's interesting to note that Bernanke is backed by the likes of outgoing Senator Chris Dodd, while the quoted critiques seem to be coming from Republicans;

Critics assailed him for his record ahead of the crisis, from bank supervision to mortgage regulation to the financial rescue. "Bernanke fiddled while our markets burned," said Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. "I believe that it is the duty of this body to hold accountable those regulators whose poor oversight of our financial institutions and markets helped produce the greatest economic crisis this country has experienced in eighty years."

Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, one of Mr. Bernanke's fiercest critics, said "a vote for Ben Bernanke is a vote for bailouts," and added, "If you want to put an end to bailouts and send a message to Wall Street, this vote is your chance," he said.

That aside, tying Bernanke to the the problem, or exonerating him, does little politically for either party at this point. More analysis of the of the cause(s) of the meltdown will eventually come to light and then there could be major implications for those tied to the collapse.

In the short term it might serve Democrats to exonerate Bernanke to keep the Obama-the-populist push having the focus of people's anger re-directed towards evil bankers and Wall Street 'fat cats' but that just might come down to who can scream about it longer and louder - Republicans or Democrats.

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