Sanders Puts Hold on Bernanke Nomination | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Bernie Sanders

Sanders Puts Hold on Bernanke Nomination


Published December 2, 2009 at 9:13 p.m.

Vermont's Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders today placed a hold on the nomination of Ben Bernanke for a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

“The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few,” Sanders said in a statement. “What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy.”

A "hold" is placed when the senator notifies the Senate leaders' office that he, or she, intends to object to a request for unanimous consent from the Senate to consider or pass a measure. With such an objection, it makes it more difficult to get Bernanke's nomination to the floor for a vote, and could mean they would need to find 60 votes to support his nomination.

Bernanke was first appointed by Pres. George W. Bush, and his term expires at the end of January. President Barack Obama nominated him for a second term in September. Bernanke is scheduled to be on Capitol Hill Thursday to face questions from the Senate Banking Committee.

In announcing his hold, Sanders criticized Bernanke for approving decisions as the head of the central bank that he believes led to the current recession.

Since 2006 in his role as the head of the central bank, Sanders said Bernanke did not:

  • Demand that Wall Street provide adequate credit to small and medium-sized businesses;
  • Insisted that large bailed-out banks end the usurious practice of charging interest rates of 30 percent or more on credit cards;
  • Break up "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions that took Federal Reserve help. 
  • Reveal which banks took more than $2 trillion in taxpayer-backed, secret loans.

“The American people want a new direction on Wall Street and at the Fed. They do not want as chairman someone who has been part of the problem and who has been responsible for many of the enormous difficulties that we are now experiencing,” Sanders said. “It’s time for a change at the Fed.”

Not since the Great Depression has the financial system been as unsafe, unsound, and unstable as it has been during Mr. Bernanke's tenure, Sanders noted. More than 120 banks have failed since he became chairman.

According to the Federal Reserve's own website, it has four main responsibilities: to conduct monetary policy by influencing money and credit conditions that leads to full employment and stable prices; to supervise and regulate banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of financial institutions and protect the credit rights of consumers; to maintain the stability of the financial system and contain systemic risk in financial markets; and, provide certain financial services to the U.S. government, public, and financial institutions and others, as well as playing a major role in operating the nation's payment systems.

“Mr. Bernanke has failed at all four core responsibilities of the Federal Reserve,” Sanders concluded.  “It’s time for him to go."