After the recent buzz in Ben Bernanke’s future as the Fed Chairman for the second time around, finally, Ben Bernanke was confirmed and reappointed as the Fed Chairman once again.
Last Thursday, the Senate votes 70 to 30 to reappoint Ben Bernanke as the Fed Chairman once again. Senators based their votes on market stability ahead of populist anger at Wall Street. The bipartisan vote came three days before the expiration of Ben Bernanke’s first term.
Ben Bernanke’s margin of victory was the narrowest for a Fed chairman’s confirmation in the nearly century-long history of the central bank, reflecting intense public wrath in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and the resulting bailouts of giant financial institutions.
The battle over Ben Bernanke’s confirmation and reappointment has been a test of central bank independence, a crucial element if the Fed is to carry out unpopular but economically essential policies. Its decisions on interest rates, dictated of course by Fed Chairman, can have immense consequences, from the success or failure of the largest companies to the typical home-buyer’s ability to get an affordable loan to the price of cereal at the grocery or gas at the corner station.
In the final vote of Ben Bernanke’s reappointment, 11 Democrats and an independent joined 18 Republicans against Bernanke. They included senators facing potentially difficult re-elections this year, such as Democrats Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Barbara Boxer of California. Seven Democrats stuck with their party’s majority on the vote to overcome the filibuster, but then switched to vote against confirmation. Both party leaders — Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — voted to confirm. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, voted against him.
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