Thursday, December 03, 2009

What, No Question About the Salahis?

With only a couple of exceptions, Bernanke's hearing today was a frightening abdication of responsibility even by contemporary DC standards. Most of the senators seemed oblivious to the purpose of the hearing, which was to consider an individual's past performance and current suitability for a specific job. Instead there was question after question about the Fed's organizational structure, the federal budget, and bank lending and supervision -- topics that had no place in this type of hearing. Bernanke was cordially invited to opine almost on whatever he wanted, with softball questions on healthcare reform, ATM fees, and financial literacy. I was waiting for one about the White House party crashers. About thirty minutes in, Bernanke knew the score and was comfortable enough to start grinning.

It took almost an hour and a half before anyone bothered to get to AIG. I think the dollar was mentioned once all day. Bernanke's use of the output gap, which currently underpins the largest monetary experiment in history and is the target of important new criticism from the Fed's own researchers? Not mentioned once. Gold? Schmold.

How did my list of 15 questions fare? Jim DeMint read Bernanke's bad predictions verbatim from my question #4. He also asked my question #10 on whether employment should be part of the Fed's mandate. A pitch-perfect, wonderfully caustic Jim Bunning mentioned the TARP Inspector General's recent disclosure about AIG's counterparties, #1 on my list. He also pointed out Bernanke's desire to lower rates even more in 2003, #3 on my list.

Outside of those two senators, almost everyone else was either a waste of time or an embarrassment to their constituents. I was stunned by how little of the public's outrage came through in the tone and substance of the questions. Bunning and Bernie Sanders have now announced holds on Bernanke's nomination, and there's post-hearing chatter that others may join them. Again, if this issue is important to you, I urge you to contact your senators.

Update: DeMint makes it three.

More: Vitter makes it four.


Anonymous wtf said...

I sent an email to each Democratic senator on the committee and 3 or 4 Republican ones asking them to dump Bernanke and support S 604 (the Fed audit bill). I included all your questions. I'm an erstwhile Obama Democratic. Thank God for Sanders and the Republicans today. We'll see if it's more than grandstanding.

12/03/2009 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the 'grandstanding' takes place, more and more people are being sucked into the black hole of what has become of the housing and credit industry.

Thank you, wtf, for doing the hard work. If more people would take the time to voice their opinion, then perhaps we would a chance of changing something. And at this point I mean something.

12/03/2009 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see the reason for the holds by Demint and Vitter: the audit. This may get interesting.

12/04/2009 4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judd Gregg was especially bad.

With the multiple holds it looks like any vote on the nomination is at least a month away.

12/04/2009 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the Bunning remarks. I will later be posting names of senators who may be on the fence so you can do your part by contacting them.

12/04/2009 9:50 AM  
Anonymous SC said...

Bunning made a great point about how he was the only one to vote against BB's confirmation the first time. Looks pretty prescient now.

12/05/2009 6:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bunning did a good job...where most Republicans I know are still blaming the CRA for all the financial problems we experienced, he really got down to it. Where was all this back when the Republicans controlled Congress?

12/07/2009 5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sent your questions verbatim to Sherrod Brown, who is not my senator (neither of my senators is on the committee) figuring he might be a likely candidate to stand up. Guess not.

This further proves my long standing contention that all elected offices should be term limited. The longer anyone serves in elected office, the more likely they are to be more concerned with getting re-elected than doing the public good.

12/08/2009 11:15 AM  

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