Why Bernanke to succeed Tim Geithner? He is probably the most influential and credible person in official Washington who is not part of the echo chamber on deficit reduction, and a Treasury secretary concerned more about recovery than austerity is just what Obama needs. And because the Fed, almost by definition, is assumed to be conservative, Bernanke would provide some cover for an expansionary program. I can think of people who'd be even better than Bernanke but I can't think of anyone as good who stands a prayer of being nominated. It's nothing short of weird when the most reliable progressive in town around turns out to be the chairman of the Federal Reserve. But such are the reactionary times in which we live.
Notwithstanding citizens dropping out of the labor force, 5 million Americans were classified in August as "long-term unemployed." Meanwhile, teenage joblessness rose to over 24% -- an alarming level given the risk that out of work youth face in going from being unemployed to being unemployable. As hard as Ben Bernanke and his Fed colleagues try -- and they have been trying very hard, taking monetary policy ever deeper into unfamiliar/experimental territory -- the institution does not have the proper tools to deal with our unemployment crisis. The bottom line is a simple one. It should concern us all as citizens and parents. And it is worth repeating over and over again: If Congress is not careful, these trends will further increase an already-material risk that, for the first time in a very long time, our children's generation may be worse off than that of their parents.