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Bernanke Vote Closer Than It Appeared

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The vote on Bernanke’s confirmation produced 30 “no” votes, more than any previous vote on a Fed chairman, even exceeding those against Paul Volcker after he had driven the economy into the most severe post-recession downturn in his effort to wring inflation out of the economy.

But that was still a comfortable win, right, even if the finally tally showed considerable unhappiness with Bernanke? Not at all. This observation came from an informed Hill observer:

Despite the wide margin, they were genuinely shitting bricks last Thursday. He was on the brink of going down, but they rallied and won. It was definitely closer than it appeared…. It’s just that once he got the votes, the undecideds broke hard in his direction.

And one of the factors in Bernanke and the Administration prevailing is that progressives believe in fighting fair, which puts them at a considerable disadvantage. As we pointed out, the real vote on the Fed confirmation was the cloture vote (the vote to force an end to debate and move on to a vote), particularly with several senators having put a “hold” on the Bernanke vote (a threat to filibuster). Conservatives (many of whom had joined with progressives to oppose to Bernanke) will close ranks and use the filibuster (hence the importance of the loss of the Democrat’s 60 votes in the Senate with the election of Scott Brown in Mass. The 60 votes would matter less if the Republicans had some compuntions about using filibusters and other procedural measures to prevail).

As Ryan Grim explained at Huffington Post:

The seven senators who voted for cloture but against Bernanke included six Democrats and Florida Republican Sen. George Lemieux, who is retiring in 2010. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) is also retiring. Senators on their way out often promise leadership they will “be there on cloture,” but are then freed to vote against final passage. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) is also retiring and voted yes on cloture but no on final passage.

Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Al Franken (Minn.), Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) also flipped their votes.

Whitehouse told HuffPost after the vote that it would have been hypocritical of him to filibuster the nominee, because he’d been critical of his colleagues who abused the filibuster in the past. “I’m for moving through cloture on this stuff. I’ve been annoyed by the Republican cloture blockades and I’ve been critical of members of my caucus who’ve denied the leader cloture. It would be highly inconsistent to vote against cloture,” he said. “I hope that my vote against him will help send a message to economic leadership that they need to pivot and they need to back off the record of, ‘Banks win every dispute with consumers and the public.’”

Franken expressed a similar sentiment. “While I voted for cloture because I believed this nomination deserved an up or down vote, I couldn’t in good conscience support it,” Franken said in a statement after the vote, after declining to talk to a HuffPost reporter in the hallway.

Franken said he opposed the nomination because he didn’t get the assurances he wanted about consumer protection. “A strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency and other consumer protections are essential to securing our economy for Main Street and the middle class,” Franken said. “I needed to know that a robust CFPA would be a part of financial regulatory reform in order to support Chairman Bernanke’s confirmation to a second term. As governor of the Federal Reserve and then Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke did almost nothing to protect consumers and when he did, it was too late. I needed the assurance that would improve. And I didn’t get that.”

“I wasn’t somebody who wanted to prevent a vote on it,” Dorgan said after the vote.

The lesson here: Centrist and conservative senators are willing to deny an up-or-down vote on policy they oppose, but progressive senators often are not. That dynamic tilts political power toward leadership and conservative priorities.

Bernanke’s opponents pointed to the relative success of their push against his confirmation, which was considered a virtual certainty two weeks ago but became an open question following the election of a Republican, Scott Brown, in the Massachusetts Senate election. “I think it’s important for him to note that he did have 30 votes-plus [sic] against him. I think the message is, take a look at Main Street, not just Wall Street,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said.

As the Israelis say, “Love your enemy, for you will become him.” Progressives seem not to have made that leap.

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41 comments

  1. attempter

    First liberal defenses of the rogue SCOTUS decision on corporate buying of elections, and now this business of voting for cloture.

    What a few weeks for the triumph of the “process” mentality over any sense of principle, results, reality.

    This is why, no matter what happens, “progressives” as we’ve come to know and despise them are finished.

    Either a truly vigorous, intrepid people’s movement will arise, or else America will soon be overtly fascist.

    Either way the process mentality has no future, and good riddance.

    1. Hugh

      Just to be clear. Democrats are not progressives. There are progressives out here. We have been completely frozen out of the Obama Administration both in terms of people and ideas. Some of us have been criticizing Obama since well before the November 2008 election and the Democrats since the November 2006 one.

      What you are seeing is not us. Progressives have a commitment to solutions that work, not this dreck. But this is what we have been saying all along. The Democrats were not going to follow our ideas but they were going to blame us. What can I say? Mission Accomplished.

      1. Nate

        scharfy – I appreciate your comment as the term “progressives” seems to have been something the entered the mainstream lexicon only in the past couple of years(I lead a sheltered life). I would very much appreciate if someone could direct me to where I could get more info on “progressives” or elaborate even further.

        1. attempter

          The term “progressive” today has little to do with historical progressivism, but was rather a media ploy.

          They let themselves be intimidated when Republicans and the MSM were bashing the term “liberal”. So true to form (since the problem is always message, never substance) they did focus groups and polling and so on and came up with rebranding as the magical key.

          So the term “liberal” had become disreputable in their own eyes.

          But the substance never changed. “Liberal” or “progressive”, ideologically it means being right of center on economic issues (often far right).

          Meanwhile they often are progressive on culture war issues, but even this is generally ad hoc and negotiable.

      2. attempter

        Hugh, I know there’s a small band of people who fought for single payer all the way and want to end the war. (And some of them even oppose the Bailout.)

        So I didn’t mean literally everyone who calls himself a progressive.

        But the fact remains that not just sellouts like the de jure Dems or the hack blogs, but the “movement” as a whole simply doesn’t seem to have the desire or the will to fight.

        After 8 years of the Bush nightmare, and then to have the allegedly progressive party holding the presidency and majorities in both houses – anyone who under those circumstances would be willing to be “patient”, to be “incremental”, to listen to lies about what’s “pragmatic”, is simply not a fighter.

        (That’s of course assuming they ever did oppose Bush on policy and not simply out of partisan jealousy. But it’s very clear that huge numbers of people never opposed Bush policy, but only that it was Republicans doing it.

        What’s most despicable about they and their “Obama” is that while it was still just Bush/Cheney it was possible for all the horror to be an aberration, and that America could still restore a better self.

        But Obama and his movement have sought to formally and figuratively enshrine all Bush/Cheney practices as the bland business as usual. Obaam wants the Bush way of doing things to become the natural baseline, the SOP regardless of which party or individual is in the White House or holds a congressional majority.

        This is an ongoing formalization of crypto-fascism. That’s the only incrementalism and the only process we have ongoing today. So any incrementalist and anyone servile before the “process” is either de facto or intentionally a creature of this fascist agenda.)

        I’ve seen this all at firsthand over the last few years, at sites from Gristmill to Firedoglake this past summer/fall.

        The health racket scam was the last straw. Anyone who follows this stuff, who saw how Obama’s vile scam went down, with LOTS of “independent” and even teabagger-style bottom-up support among the rank and file, and who is still wondering if this noxious bill should be passed, or if the established liberalism can be redeemed, is hopeless.

        (There’s another example of the process mentality, BTW; anyone who looks at the health racket bill and miserably tries to parse whether its features add up to a marginal improvement or not, as opposed to seeing it clearly as a vehicle of corporate tyranny which must be opposed reagrdless of whether or not one actually believes in the crumbs it falsely claims it’ll toss down from the banquet table of the superrich.)

        If you’re saying that there’s a coming groundswell of the rank and file renouncing false hope in the establishment and forsaking the Washington system once and for all, I hope that’s true.

        But the overall reaction to the SOTU doesn’t seem to indicate that the existing ranks are dissolving.

  2. bob

    It was the most dissent ever offered on a Fed head, but still not enough. Mr. Market was speaking the loudest over the last week and got the final word in.

  3. VacantHomes

    (I’m going to post my response to DownSouth here since I think it fits better on a Bernanke thread.)

    DownSouth wrote:
    “Surprise! Surprise! The roots of the Great Depression lie not in government intervention, but in private finance. It’s becoming quite obvious that Bernanke received his hallowed “expertise” of the Great Depression at the Mises Institute, best known for its great feats in taking history and turning it on its head.”

    I wouldn’t go quite that far. Bernanke’s “expertise” on the Great Depression is absolutely worthy of ridicule, but his actions have still been vastly different than what the Austrians/Mises folks (who I think got it at least partly right) would have recommended.

    The Austrians would say it’s all about the huge debt level (which I agree with), and that we just need to let the debt deflate naturally (which I only sort of agree with, a little Keynesian cushioning of the deflation is warranted I think).

    Bernanke is more of a monetarist and is following the monetarist view of the Depression (according to Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz), which mostly ignores the debt problem and states that loosening monetary policy at the right time could have prevented most of the Depression. So that’s what Bernanke is doing now. Problem is, even Anna Schwarz has stated that Bernanke’s actions won’t work this time, because now we have more of a solvency problem than we did during the Depression!

    And now to top things off, we get reports that Bernanke is probably involved in directing/covering up the AIG payouts. God, this guy is horrible. Isn’t there some other way we can get rid of him?

    1. DownSouth

      VacantHomes,

      You say “The Austrians would say it’s all about the huge debt level (which I agree with)…”

      Well I agree too!

      Where I disagree is how that huge debt came about. The Austrians always want to lay the blame at the feet of the government. I say: “Not so fast!”

      As I said in a comment the other day in response to a Tim Iacono post, one should take Iacono’s and Rothbard’s historical revisionism with a huge grain of salt. Rothbard, one must recall, was one of the leading lights of the Austrian School. So what he gives us, and Iacono parrots, is a view of the world seen through the highly ideologically tainted lens of the libertarian.

      Of course their telling of history is cherry picked to fit the Austrian-Libertarian mold to a tee. Monetary policy, as always seems to be the case in the Austrian-Libertarian universe, is the talisman that produces magical or miraculous effects. As Iacono tells us:

      The Fed’s role in sowing the seeds of destruction is under-appreciated

      While the Federal Reserve isn’t credited with doing all that much from the time that it was founded in 1913 until after World War I, that changed in a big way in the 1920s. As recounted in great detail by Rothbard, continuous “inflationary” policies by Chairman Benjamin Strong from the early-1920s up until about 1928 played a key role in the crash.
      http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/01/links-12110.html

      To Iacono and Rothbard I said “HOGWASH!” And I go on to give historical evidence that demonstrates how the Austrians butcher history with their half-truths and distortions so that it fits their ideology.

      sherparick1 jumped in with a link to a post by John Quiggin that greatly helped to round out my argument.

      1. alex

        “The Austrians always want to lay the blame at the feet of the government.”

        In this case I think the Austrians are right about laying the blame on the government. Where they’re wrong is in saying that the answer to bad government regulation is no government regulation. In this, and many others, they’d say that the answer to a badly run central bank is no central bank at all. We tried that in the 19th and early 20th centuries and had a string of panics. Yes we’ve also had panics with a central bank, but the longest period of relative stability was from the end of the Great Depression until recently. Sometimes the answer to badly run government is well run government, but that runs counter to their ideology.

        1. DownSouth

          Government regulation is anathema to Austrians-libertarians.

          And it matters not an iota to them that government regulation was the only thing that could have prevented the huge run-up in private debt that led to the Great Depression of the 1930s, just like it was the only thing that could have prevented the huge run-up in private debt that caused the Great Financial Crisis of the 2000s (and most likely 2010s, because that debt is still sitting out there, undiminished, like a big lead anchor pulling the economy down).

          It’s like Quiggin pointed out: laissez faire is the real Holy Grail of the Austrian-libertarian. In their universe, it is the be-all and end-all:

          Unfortunately, having put taken the first steps in the direction of a serious theory of the business cycle, Hayek and Mises spent the rest of their lives running hard in the opposite direction. As Laidler observes, they took a nihilistic ‘liquidationist’ view in the Great Depression, a position that is not entailed by the theory, but reflects an a priori commitment to laissez-faire.

        2. DownSouth

          alex,

          You conclude: “Sometimes the answer to badly run government is well run government, but that runs counter to their ideology.”

          That sums it up so eloquently.

          1. eric anderson

            “You conclude: ‘Sometimes the answer to badly run government is well run government, but that runs counter to their ideology.’

            “That sums it up so eloquently.”

            @DownSouth

            Problem: Since power corrupts, as government increases in size and power, corruption increases asymptotically toward absolute tyranny (and probably bankruptcy as well).

            If you want well run government, it must be small, and watched like a hawk.

            Is this ideology, or merely history? You may find a few examples of benevolent monarchs who ruled with only as much force as necessary. But I would submit that these are exceptions which prove the rule.

            Whittle down the number and the scope of things you require the government to supervise, control, regulate, and you are more likely to get something that works for us instead of against us. If there is a flaw in this logic, then I would need to see more than a few historical examples that counter it.

          2. bob

            None of that is even on the table. The head of the fed was up for reappointment. There was a chance to block him. It failed.

            We can’t even block a bureaucrat, who is clearly either stealing or stupid, and you want to up the ante with talking about tearing down the rest of the government.

            The ‘small government’ crowd might have a point, they may even be correct, but they are clearly insane.

            You’re in an alley with a mugger with a gun to your head. Do you start by telling the mugger that you are going to take his wallet and gun?

            Hoping a cop might wander by is the best hope you have, barring some Charles Bronson 70′s movie plot.

            We need more fucking cops.

          3. DownSouth

            eric anderson,

            Your comment beautifully exemplifies the disease that lies at the heart of Austrian-Libertarian ideology.

            You fear only government, and are completely blind to the fact that wealthy non-government actors, like corporations, can and always do emerge that are every bit as abusive as government. The grotesque notion that the lone individual is a match for these corporations has no basis in reality. And yet this far-fetched nonsense is what lies at the heart of Austrian-Libertarian ideology, and is what causes it to lose all limitations through common sense. Power must be met with power, and government–which in a functioning democracy represents the people–is the only hope the common man has of matching the power of the wealthy corporation.

            Since history never bears out the laissez-faire, anti-government absolutism that is the Holy Grail of the Austrian-Libertarian, he must invariably resort to historical revisionism. Thus the orgy of laissez-faire that preceded the Great Depression had nothing to do with causing it. Instead, the Great Depression was caused by faulty monetary policy. Likewise, the laissez-faire fervor that began growing in the United States in the 1970s and reached its crescendo in 2007 had nothing to do with causing the Great Financial Crisis. Riding the tide of laissez-faire absolutism were Greenspan and Bernanke. And yet it wasn’t their zealous embrace of limited government that caused the GFC, it was their monetary policies.

            But here’s where the real fun begins for the Austrian-Libertarian. When his policies are implemented and everything comes crashing down, which it always does, laissez-faire never gets the blame. For instance, here’s how Frederick Lewis Allen in Only Yesterday describes Hoover’s role in the run-up to the Great Depression:

            [Coolidge’s] proudest boast was that he cut down the cost of running the Government by systematic cheeseparing, reduced the public debt, and brought about four reductions in federal taxes, aiding not only those with small incomes but even more conspicuously those with large. Meanwhile his Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, ingeniously helped business to help itself; on the various governmental commissions, critics of contemporary commercial practices were replaced, as far as possible, by those who would look upon business with a lenient eye; and the serene flattering pronouncements upon business and assurances that prosperity was securely founded.

            But the Austrian-Libertarians don’t excommunicate Hoover for his laissez-faire absolutism, the fundamental cause of the Great Depression. Instead, it is his break with laissez-faire absolutism , as described here by Lewis, for which he is excommunicated:

            And in America, as in other parts of the world, the economic system had now become so complex and interdependent that the possible consequences of widespread bankruptcy–to the banks, the insurance companies, the great holding-company systems, and the multitudes of people dependent upon them–had become too appalling to contemplate. The theoretically necessary adjustment became a practically unbearable adjustment. Therefore Hoover was driven to the point of intervening to protect the debt structure–first by easing temporarily the pressure of international debts without canceling them, and second by buttressing the banks and big corporations with Federal funds.

            Iacono’s pronounces Hoover’s excommunication as follows:

            It was Herbert Hoover, not FDR, that broke the mold of what had been a Laissez-fare approach by government in regards to the economy, a dramatic change from the Coolidge years when the president is said to have made little use of his office yet, to this day, is credited with fostering “Coolidge Prosperity” for most the decade.
            http://themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com/2010/01/few-points-on-great-depression.html

            Bush, a laissez-faire zealot just like Hoover, also intervened to bail out the banks and big corporations after everything came crashing down. Bush is excommunicated from the Austrian-Libertarian church for the same reason as Hoover.

            Greenspan and Bernanke, also a laissez-faire zealots, are excommunicated for their heresies regarding monetary policy.

            But no one ever gets excommunicated from the Austrian-Libertarian church a fanatical adherence to laissez-faire. Laissez-faire is like the sacred fire kept perpetally burning on the altar of the Roman goddess vesta, guarded by the vestal virgins.

          4. Kevin de Bruxelles

            eric anderson,

            By bringing up monarchy you are mixing the concept of the size of government with the concept of the type of government. As Aristotle wrote so long ago there are three possible types of government; rule by one, rule by the few, or rule by the many. Each of these types has a correct and a perverted form. The rule of one is called monarchy when it is for the common good and called tyranny when it becomes corrupted. Likewise an aristocracy is the correct form being ruled of the few while oligarchy is the corrupted form. Rule by the many is either called “polity” (constitutional government) when it is good or democracy when it is bad. Each type has inherent strengths and weaknesses. Monarchy is great if the ruler is wise and benevolent. Succession is obviously the major long-term weaknesses with rule by one. With constitutional government the strengths are obvious while the inherent weakness is the eventual complacency and ignorance of the disengaged masses.

            So the size of government is just another variable to be combined with the type of government. To ask the question of what is the optimal size of government is to really ask what is the aim of government. If the aim of government is to maximize GDP then there is the Armey curve (link below) which shows that as the size of government approaches 0% or 100% then GDP approaches zero. Somewhere in the middle between 30-45% is probably ideal for maximizing GDP. But most people may not agree that the goal if government is to maximize GDP. Some may say that the government most also support a huge military apparatus in order to dominate the four corners of the world, as in the US. Others may say that government must assure extensive social safety nets as in Sweden. So in these cases one would expect to see larger than normal governments.

            I think many are wary of “conservatives” claiming they favour smaller government and then two seconds later are screaming bloody murder if defence appropriations don’t go up 5% a year. And cutting taxes is not the same as cutting government size if deficit spending is substituted for tax revenue allowing spending to keep going up.

            So size really depends on function. Just like for a corporation one cannot necessarily say smaller is better; so it is for government. I think what is most important irrespective of size is that government be as you stated “watched like a hawk” by a well informed and engaged citizenry. While it may be true that watching a smaller entity is easier than watching a larger one, the size should really be determined by the mission and then the oversight applied as necessary. This is the true failure in America; a wealthy corporate elite has been handed absolute power by an ill-informed and complacent populous who refuse to carry out oversight and have instead been lulled into virtual slavery by the pacifying effects of barrages of bread and circuses. And even many of those that are politically engaged fall into the intellectually corrosive trap of partisan moral relativism (“it’s OK when my side does it; bad when the other side does the exact same thing”).

            In the end Thomas Jefferson said it best, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

            http://www.house.gov/jec/growth/govtsize/govtsize.htm

    2. Some1

      No.

      The system will not allow it. They got TARP. They got Bernanke. They will win any other ones they really want, too.

      Change we can believe will not come from Obama and it will not come through the system.

  4. craazyman

    Well the financial slaveships are back out prowling the seas sucking up loot and booty.

    Amex just gave its CEO a 60% pay raise and 20-30% raises for other top dogs, no doubt for all the stalwart guidance during board meetings after it declared itself a bank to avoid implosion while the Fed was juicing the yield curve to save its ass. That’s talent for you. My health insurance premium went up 60% during the same time frame and the yield on my little piggy bank’s cash balance went to zero (thank’s Ben), so I must not have much talent. LOL.

    No doubt the Senate’s lukewarm 70 – 30 endorsement of Bailout Ben won’t do anything except reaffirm to the financial asshole (the unifying metaphor that encompases the parasite class) that it can’t be wiped by the toilet tissue of our political system. It just keeps stinking. Ha ha ha.

  5. Hugh

    It is all piffle and posturing after the fact. The bottomline is that Bernanke was reconfirmed as were his disastrous policies. There needs to be massive change at the Fed. This vote guarantees there will be no change at the Fed.

    Only 5 Democrats and independent Bernie Sanders from the Democratic caucus voted against both cloture and confirmation. That’s out of 60 (Dems still hold the MA seat). The Democrats’ excuses and rationalizations for voting for cloture are lame beyond belief: Yes, Bernanke has done untold damage to the country and will do even more but hey, I didn’t want to prevent this catastrophe through a commonly used Senate rule. Got to have standards and priorities and such. It’s a little like saying you could have stopped a hospital from burning down but you couldn’t because you would have had to jaywalk to do it.

    “It’s just that once he got the votes, the undecideds broke hard in his direction.”

    This too is a crap analysis. There are those who will vote for cloture because they also want to vote yes on the underlying question. They may be wrong but at least they are being consistent. There are others who want to cast a cosmetic vote, like Barbara Boxer and Al Franken cited above. They will vote for cloture knowing that if the question comes up it will have enough votes to win. Then they will cast their useless no vote and tell the rubes back home that they stood up for their constituents and voted against such and such (even as they let it pass).

    Now as pointed out here only 6 Democrats cast cosmetic votes, i.e. “broke”, but they did so at the final vote not the cloture vote. And they broke to vote against Bernanke not for him in that final vote. In addition, there were the 6 (5 Democrats and Sanders) who voted real opposition votes. That’s 12. There were then 48 Democrats who voted for Bernanke both at cloture and the final vote. Given that 22 Republicans also voted for Bernanke, there were plenty of cosmetic votes out there that could have been cast against Bernanke that weren’t.

    The take home message here is that 48 Democrats voted for Bernanke because they wanted to. 6 were trying to have it both ways and 6 took a principled stand against Bernanke. So this idea that things were shaky is hooey. Only 6, that’s 10% of Senate Democrats were solidly against Bernanke. The rest, the other 90% of Democrats, had signed off on his reconfirmation –although a small number of these played some games not with the confirmation but with how their votes looked.

  6. Omitted Kingdom

    Jim Bunning (R-Ky) and all of his time in front of the camera time now looks shallow and forgettable.

  7. emesis

    If voting for Bernanke makes incumbents vulnerable in 2010 as IRA suggests, then it might be for the best. The Constitution has no chance of getting reinstated until every last worm that voted for the PATRIOT Act is gone. Turnover is good, pretty much no matter who gets purged.

  8. steve from virginia

    First of all, Bernanke is irrelevant. He’s not imaginative enough to take the monetary policy steering wheel away from Ali al- Naimi.

    Who?

    The oil minister of Saudi Arabia, that’s who. Naimi suggested that the dollar is really worth something beginning last year by trading otherwise useless black goo for a dollar price that goes so far … and no farther. By doing so, Naimi has made the dollar a hard currency.

    Just like that. Oil is the ‘New Gold’!

    Just like Montague Norman did with Stirling back … in the late 1920′s. Back when the world had the last great recession. Gold arbitrage caused the Great Depression, just like oil arbitrage is doing now. As long as there is no ‘outside event’ (terrorist attack or tanker war) or any whisper of energy conservation, the dollar/crude peg will hold and all the short- dollar and carry trades will continue to collapse.

    Just as they have been doing for some time, now.

    Bernanke … who dat?

    The real issue for Congress is the Bernanke Ponzi Money Laundry where Bernanke’s Wall Street friends, ‘Bennie’s Boys’, get to trade their otherwise worthless derivatives of any and all sort for newly minted US dollars … no questions asked! No recourse, either! (Bennie’s Boys can also trade for Treasuries, which are easy to sell). Without Bennie, there is less likelihood of the money laundry surviving. This means less likelihood for various Senate ‘Best Friends’ and ‘Special Clients’ being able to escape the next deleveraging event.

    The deleveraging leg that started about three months ago …

    Hard money will eventually close the laundry anyway and millions (more) will suffer. This is Bennie’s legacy! 30% unemployment; ‘Welcome to Spain!’

    Asking Congress to stand up for the public is like asking Satan to stand up for Jesus Christ. He – like Congress – will do so, but he’ll have to be paid. Remember that, progressives!

  9. cougar_w

    There was a short-lived window here to accomplish two things; 1) disembowel the Fed, and 2) back off Wall Street.

    Neither happened. Neither is going to happen, not for fur years anyway.

    Game over, I’d say. Four more years of exactly what we’ve had for the last 12 years (including Greenspan) will certainly prove lethal. Combine that with the SCOTUS decision and a palpable fear in the political ranks regarding the next round of elections, and I can feel the nails being driven into the coffin.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been this dispirited.

    cougar

  10. scharfy

    This criminal Bernanke got reappointed because there are far too many cowards in congress unable to take any political risk. The FED aided and abetted the US GOVT in the largest taxpayer heist ever. Numerous laws were broken, the constitution ignored, and Bernanke should be prosecuted.

    The only thing keeping him afloat is the fact that he expanded the FED’s balance sheet to 2 trillion $$$’s assets and QE threw a huge taxpayer blanket over the mess- so the amount of pain can be spread across the next 25 years.

    He is the natural offspring of a corrupt institution. His policies continue to bankrupt future prosperity to keep the balance sheets of Citi, B of A, and others in tact.

    He disgusts me. At least when Enron went down some people went to jail. Shame on you congress.

  11. bob goodwin

    It is not factually accurate that filibuster abuse is limited to the right. There was a large debate a few years back when liberals filibustered virtually every court nomination. The party in power (the liberals) currently have no need for the tactic.

    There clearly has been steady escalation in this tactic over 100 years, and it will be interesting to see if dems are really ready to do something about it when they are on the verge of becoming the minority again.

    1. Hugh

      The frequency of filibusters has increased over the years but has increased more when Republicans were in the minority in the Senate. Indeed the Republicans have doubled the number of filibusters since they lost control of the Senate in 2007.

      http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/the-rise-of-cloture-how-gop-filibuster-threats-have-changed-the-senate.php

      Also while it was a Republican talking point that Democrats were holding up Bush’s judicial nominees, this was untrue. Most were approved without a fight. There was only a small handful that Democrats threatened to filibuster and even most of these were approved after an infamous deal involving the Gang of 14.

      Actually what the Democrats can do (but won’t) is either change the rule on invoking cloture or they can allow filibusters to go forward. That is to play out not simply be threatened. Then when the debate option is exhausted 2 speeches per member per calendar day, that day being the length of the filibuster (however many 24 hour days that is), the Senate can proceed to a simple majority vote.

  12. David

    Well OK here we are. What do we do now?

    Let’s not take our eye off the ball of healthcare. Can we get the Obama plan totally scrapped and just an expansion of Medicare (single payer) instead?

  13. gordon

    I wonder now that Bernanke is reconfirmed whether Geithner will go. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pres. Obama thinks that throwing one or other of them to the sharks might not be a bad strategy at this point.

  14. i on the ball patriot

    Always a ch away …

    The votes are always closer,
    Than they always appear,
    And someone is always shitting bricks,
    Or trembling in fear,

    Its oh so all contrived,
    And its oh so jerk off lame,
    But it always keeps the marks,
    Playing in the crooked game,

    All those wasted letters,
    And all that wasted time,
    Could have built an election boycott,
    That would be powerful and sublime,

    So organize each state now,
    Start a massive boycott this year,
    As a ‘vote of no confidence’,
    That will really spread some fear!

    Reclaim your now lost power,
    And shun the crooked game,
    No balls,
    No brains,
    No freedom,
    Its time to make your claim!

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  15. doctoRx

    Maybe the progressives aren’t nicer or softer. Maybe they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote against a president of their own party.

  16. charles

    Seen from Europe, appalling ‘swing’,which reminded me of
    how the the Spanish euro-socialists were ‘gently forced’to vote to re-elect the infamous Bsrroso a few months ago, and shameful, following the AIG bailout hearings not to postpone
    that vote,given some of the revelations about Bernankoff’s
    deeds behind the curtains. Coincidently the same day,an ‘agreement’ was reached to raise the debt ceiling…
    As one senator commented: Banks win. Vote them out ! Good riddance

  17. MrDan242

    You’re delusional if you think this isn’t just partisan politics. Dem’s won’t block their own cloture same as Repub’s would not block cloture on their leaders but might vote against the actual proposal.

    1. Hugh

      80% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans voted for Bernanke. That seems bipartisan to me.

      As for cloture votes, it has been the inability of Democrats to enforce discipline to get their 60 votes for cloture even when they had 60 members in their caucus that has led them to pass so little. Now the Republicans on the other hand were great at getting everyone in their caucus to vote for cloture when they were in the majority. Sometimes this led to the bizarre situation where a Republican would vote on cloture against a bill or resolution they had co-sponsored. Peeling off the few Democrats here and there invariably put them over the top.

  18. nohomehere

    They, As in the FED and the corrupt ,bought out sellers of boats without paddles are once again trying to fool everyone in the middle class . Oh we were so wrong as-they dry a fake tear from their face Wow! But you know why the bubble blowers aren’t going to make it this time why their hot air balloon won’t fly this time ? Why any body that knows what true value is will not be taken by the media shills . Oh! that no one would fall for this sudden change of heart and you know the relationship between the Gov. and fed is good cop bad cop Oh! don’t be so gullible McFly McFly won’t you defend her honor! Swat the big violator or you will see nothing of the old USA ever again. not that you will deserve to, all because you didn’t pull him off of her and could not find the righteous indignation to knock them out of the picture when you had the chance . ON the other hand think of the alternative future a prosperous life of close knit family and friends and the proper job for the proper person Now Biff I told you to put two coats of polish ! Don’t be intimidated by talk of collapse ! Who is strong enough to defend her honor PLEASE STAND UP AND BE COUNTED there’s strength in Numbers

  19. nohomehere

    They, As in the FED and the sellers of boats without paddles are once again trying to fool everyone in the middle class. Oh, we were so wrong as-they dry a fake tear from their face. THEY, loosen their strangle hold just enough to keep the host alive THEY STILL NEED their source of nourishment!
    At that point most think the crisis has past, unaware of the embryo planted inside them to emerge anew at some future date! Wow! But you know why the bubble blowers aren’t going to make it this time why their hot air balloon won’t fly this time? The media shills cannot feed cooked beans to any who knows how to count and what true value is. Maybe the internet will make the difference Oh! That no one would fall for this sudden change of heart , you know the relationship between the Gov. and fed is good cop, bad cop. Oh! Don’t be so gullible McFly! McFly won’t you defend her honor! Swat the big violator or you will see nothing of the old girl ever again. Not that you will deserve to, all because you didn’t pull him off of her and could not find the righteous indignation to knock them out of the picture when you had the chance. ON the other hand think back to the alternative future a prosperous life of close-knit family and friends and the proper job for the proper person. Now Biff I told you to put two coats of polish! Don’t be intimidated by talk of collapse! Who is strong enough to defend her honor ! PLEASE STAND UP AND BE COUNTED , there’s strength in Numbers

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