FEDERAL RESERVE -- January 28, 2010 at 4:23 PM EDT
Bernanke Approved for Second Term at Fed
The Senate voted 70-30 Thursday afternoon to approve Ben Bernanke for a second four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.
After several hours of debate in which Bernanke supporters argued that voting down his nomination would imperil a shaky economic recovery, senators voted 77-23 to end debate, pushing the confirmation to a full Senate vote.
"To vote against confirmation could unnerve investors and exacerbate economic uncertainty in the marketplace, which is exactly what we do not need at this time," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. "We need the wisdom of patience," he said. "Let us not judge the man or the work prematurely."
Bernanke's confirmation seemed in jeopardy in recent weeks as several prominent Democrats announced their intention to vote against a second term based on the Fed's handling of the financial bailouts. On last Friday's NewsHour, David Wessel of the Wall Street Journal spoke to Judy Woodruff about why, post-Massachusetts special election, Bernanke's nomination seemed to be in sudden danger.
I think that Ben Bernanke has become a lightning rod for the public anger that Wall Street got bailed out and Main Street didn't.
He was, like Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary, one of the people at the scene of the crime. And, in my view, he did a lot that saved us from a second Great Depression. But, right now, people are seeing 10 percent unemployment and big profits on Wall Street, and they're angry about that, and he is a very convenient target.
That anger was on display on Capitol Hill yesterday, as members of a House committee investigating the bailout of AIG grilled Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner about his role in the rescue of the insurance giant. Bernanke did not testify but answered questions by letter about the Fed's role in the bailout.
His confirmation today indicates legislators chose not to sacrifice him to the growing backlash against Wall Street assistance, but lawmakers made it clear that there would be further demands on him to reform the Fed.
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said it was time to "pivot from the necessary rescue of our major financial institutions to the equally if not more necessary help to Americas families...."The Fed has enormous powers that could be used to help people."