Sunday, December 6, 2009

Backbencher of the Week

The Backbencher is a fan of Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-VT) and his type of Democratic Socialism. We recognized Sen. Sanders earlier this year for his work on healthcare reform, and now we recognize his work on the issue of reforming the financial system.

On Wednesday night, Sen Sanders placed a hold on the nomination on Ben Bernanke's nomination for a 2nd term as Chair of the Federal Reserve. Joining Sander with the hold, and also as Backbencher of the Week, is Sen. Jim Bunning(R-KY.) Bunning hold a warm place in the Backbencher's heart because he is a curmudgeonly old coot who is a constant pain in the rear to his fellow Kentuckian Sen. Mitch McConnell(R-KY). Also joining the Coalition of the Holders, and the winners of Backbencher of the Week, is Sen Jim DeMint(R-SC). These three will probably never be celebrated together again on this blog, but attention must be paid when a bi-partisan group of Senators forms to look at changes to the Fed.

Most of the reading I have done regarding the financial crisis indicates that Bernanke did as good a job as anyone given the circumstances. However, there are real questions if he is the right person to rebuild the economy. During Senate hearings this week, chairman Bernanke called for cuts to Social Security and argued against further measures to stimulate the economy and raise employment. Even though part of the mission of the Federal Reserve is maintain high employment, Bernanke is opposed to doing anything that might raise the employment level.

As Ezra Klein points out, the Fed Chair is to be insulated from day to to politics but he is not an independent actor. Politicians appoint and confirm the Chair, and their decision is an expression of the policy they want to see the Fed enact.

As a good government liberal, I would like to see Senate policy(including the use of holds) changed. However, the correct use of political power on the Fed is worthy of this week's Backbencher of the Week. Congratulations to Sens. Sanders, Bunning, and DeMint.

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