BURLINGTON, Vt., January 22 – Amid growing doubts that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke could survive a Senate confirmation vote, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today replacing the Fed chief would give President Obama a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform Wall Street.
“The defeat of Ben Bernanke would give President Obama a golden opportunity to nominate someone who will move the Fed in a new direction and put an end to the Fed’s relationship with big banks and Wall Street,” Sanders said. “Instead of reappointing one of the key architects of George Bush’s economic agenda, a new Obama appointee could transform the Fed into an instrument for the middle class of this country rather than high rolling Wall Street executives.”
A new Fed chairman, Sanders added, could make affordable direct loans to small businesses, cap skyrocketing credit card interest rates, break up financial institutions that are too big to fail, protect homeowners from foreclosure, and be honest with American taxpayers about which financial institutions have received trillions of dollars in secret loans.
Saying that Bernanke has presided over a financial system that "has not been as unsafe, unsound, and unstable since the Great Depression," Sanders has led the charge against Senate confirmation of the former top economic advisor to President George W. Bush.
Under Bernanke, Sanders said, the Federal Reserve has failed at its four main responsibilities: to conduct monetary policy in a way that leads to maximum employment and stable prices; to maintain the safety and soundness of financial institutions; to contain systemic risk in financial markets; and to protect consumers against deceptive and unfair financial products.
Last Aug. 25, Sanders announced his opposition to Bernanke on the same day he was nominated for a second term. On Dec. 5, Sanders placed a hold on Bernanke’s nomination, effectively raising to 60 votes the threshold for Senate confirmation of the central bank chief.
“People do not want another term for the man whose major job as Fed chairman was to protect the safety and soundness of our financial system but instead was asleep at the switch,” Sanders said.