If Ben Bernanke wants the people to give him a second term, according to a leading progressive advocacy organization, he'd better convince them he's on their side.
Though he moved quickly to save the big banks last year, the Federal Reserve chairman has offered few solutions to the problems of burgeoning unemployment. His suggestion for taming the national debt is to target the nation's social safety net.
Now, MoveOn.org is gearing up to demand hard answers from Bernanke, who Americans believe by wide margins to be serving Wall Street's interests, rather than Main Street's. A draft letter obtained by the Huffington Post asks MoveOn members in New York to e-mail Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asking him to oppose Bernanke's confirmation for another term as Fed chairman "unless he explains, in detail, how he'll help middle-class folks struggling in this economy."
MoveOn is trying to build on the "bipartisan momentum" against Bernanke, as a growing bloc of senators shift from disappointment with Bernanke's tenure to full-throated opposition.
"Mr. Bernanke has failed at all four core responsibilities of the Federal Reserve. It's time for him to go," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the first of five senators so far to place holds delaying Bernanke's confirmation, said in a statement Wednesday.
Freshman Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) joined the "No"'s on Bernanke's second term Wednesday.
The full MoveOn.org draft letter appears below:
Dear MoveOn member,
One of the key architects of the Bush economy, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, has been nominated for another four-year term by President Obama. But there's bipartisan momentum building to hold up his confirmation until he shows that he's willing to help regular folks--and not just big banks.
Bernanke presided over the biggest Wall Street bailout in history, making trillions of dollars of loans to big banks with no oversight. But as Paul Krugman points out, while Bernanke was willing to take extreme measures to save the financial system, he displays a "curious mix of complacency and fatalism" when it comes to tackling the massive unemployment problem.1
This is really problematic, because ensuring "full employment" is explicitly part of his mandate as Federal Reserve Chair. And it's not like there's nothing he could do. Major economists have proposed several initiatives that the Fed could launch immediately to help the broader economy recover, but Bernanke isn't interested.
Your senator, Charles Schumer, is on the Senate Banking Committee and there's a key vote coming up on Bernanke's nomination tomorrow. Can you ask Sen. Schumer to vote against confirming Ben Bernanke unless he explains, in detail, how he'll help middle-class folks struggling in this economy?
Senator Charles Schumer
Then, please report your call by clicking here:
Given the questions swirling about Bernanke's conduct, progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders and conservative Sen. Jim Bunning have placed a hold on Bernanke's nomination, citing numerous concerns about his conduct.2 And economists have joined the call to delay Bernanke's nomination--from progressives like Dean Baker to right-wingers like Grover Norquist.3They agree that Bernanke's actions as Federal Reserve Chair deserve far more scrutiny before the Senate votes.
Progressives are particularly concerned because even though millions of Americans have just seen their retirement savings disappear, Bernanke told Congress that they should propose cutbacks in Medicare and Social Security to lower the deficit.4 When Sen. Jack Reed asked Bernanke whether imposing new taxes on Wall Street could be another way to achieve the same goals, Bernanke wouldn't agree.
At a time when so many Americans are hurting, we can't afford to have our monetary policy guided by someone who's mainly looking out for Wall Street. If Ben Bernanke thinks that lowering the deficit by cutting Social Security and Medicare should be the Federal Reserve's top priority right now, rather than lowering unemployment, then he doesn't deserve a second term.
The Senate needs to hold more hearings regarding Bernanke's views before rushing to reconfirm him for four more years.
Please call Sen. Schumer today--ask him to vote against confirming Ben Bernanke unless he explains how he'll help folks on Main Street.
Senator Charles Schumer
After you call, let us know here:
Thank you for all you do.
-Daniel, Noah, Ilya, Kat, and the rest of the team
1. "Bernanke's Unfinished Mission," The New York Times, December 10, 2009
2. "Sanders Puts Hold on Bernanke," U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, December 2, 2009
"Bunning places second hold on Bernanke," The Hill, December 3, 2009
3. "Coalition of groups on left and right want delay on Bernanke vote," The Hill, December 15, 2009
4. "Bernanke Channels Willie Sutton In Assault On Social Security: 'That's Where The Money Is'," The Huffington Post, December 4, 2009