Release: Senate Vote Sends Strong Message to the Fed

WASHINGTON, January 28 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that the Senate sent a clear signal to the Federal Reserve with an historic number of “no” votes against confirming Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the central bank.

The Senate confirmed Bernanke by a vote of 70 to 30, more “no” votes than were ever cast in opposition to a nominee for Fed chairman.

“The Senate vote sends a loud and clear message to the Fed and to Chairman Bernanke: Start representing the needs of the middle class and working families, not just Wall Street CEOs. Stop credit card ripoffs. Free up credit for small businesses. Break up big banks, and stop the secrecy surrounding trillions of dollars in blind loans,” said Sanders, a leader of the opposition to Bernanke.

The number of votes against Bernanke far outstripped the opposition to a second term for Paul Volcker, who was confirmed in 1983 to a second term at the Fed by a vote of 84 to 16.

The roll call vote also was a stark contrast to the voice vote in 2006 when the nomination of Bernanke by President George W. Bush sailed through the Senate on a voice vote.

Sanders said the Fed has the power today to require bailed-out banks to stop ripping off consumers and small businesses by charging interest rates of 30 percent or more on credit cards and other loans.

The historic opposition to Bernanke also should persuade the Fed to take seriously its responsibility to promote full employment.  It should provide low- interest loans to small- and medium-sized businesses to create jobs in the productive economy.  

The Federal Reserve also must break up too-big-to-fail banks so that they no longer pose a catastrophic risk to the economy, and tell the American people exactly who has received more than $2 trillion in taxpayer assistance from the Fed since the financial crisis started.