The awarding of the Nobel Prize in economics on Monday to Peter Diamond, among others, for his work in studying unemployment policy has placed an uncomfortable spotlight on Senate Republicans who have held up Diamond's nomination for the Fed Board of Governors.
If the MIT Professor is qualified for the top honor in his academic field, after all, how can one Republican -- Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) -- make the case that he doesn't have a sufficient understanding of monetary economics?
On Monday, the president and his administration pounced on the backwards optics. Obama sent out a congratulatory statement in the morning congratulating Diamond's Nobel Prize and nudging "the Senate" to act on his nomination. A much blunter statement followed from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who called out a "partisan minority in the Senate" for obstructing not just Diamond, but other nominees as well.
Despite being heralded by the Nobel Committee for his groundbreaking work with applications in a wide range of areas like unemployment and housing, Peter's nomination to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors continues to be held up by a partisan minority in the Senate. Obstructing a nominee as well-qualified as Peter in a time of economic crisis is a harmful attempt to score political points that hurts our middle class and our broader economic recovery. The President urges members of the Senate to confirm not only Peter Diamond, but also Judge Albert Diaz to the Fourth Circuit Court, Jack Lew to our budget office, and the dozens of other nominees who are being blocked so they can help carry out the people's business and move this country forward.
The presence of Jack Lew on this list is, in the end, a complicating factor. While the White House has a case to make against Senate Republicans for finding a Nobel Prize winner unqualified for a Fed post, Lew has been blocked by a Democrat, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), solely because of her displeasure over the deepwater drilling moratorium. (Another senator, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) opposes Lew's nomintion on qualification grounds.)