December 16th, 2009 | by HANK STERN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

What Jeff Merkley Thinks About Time's Person of The Year

US-ECONOMY-FINANCE-BANK

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may be Time magazine's Person of the Year. But U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley doesn't seem too impressed with the man Time credited with preventing an "economic catastrophe."

The Oregon Democrat announced this morning he would vote on Dec. 17 against Bernanke's nomination to a second term as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Merkley, a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development, said in a press release that he thinks Bernanke "failed to recognize or remedy the factors that paved the road to this dark and difficult recession. Following our economic collapse, it is also apparent that he has not changed his overall approach to prioritizing Wall Street over American families."

That makes for one interesting policy distinction between Merkley and President Obama, who's sticking by his Bernanke nomination, as both Merkley and Obama wrap up their first year in their new jobs.

Here's the rest of Merkley's statement:


“Our nation is just beginning to emerge from the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, and there is no guarantee we will continue on the road to recovery over the long or short terms. Unemployment remains far too high, credit is unavailable to too many businesses, and families are plagued by falling home prices and high foreclosure rates. Even as we move forward with our efforts to get our economy back on track, it is critical we carefully examine what led us to this point.

“For too many years, federal regulators turned a blind eye to signs of an impending financial crisis. Tricks and traps proliferated in the credit card and consumer lending industries. Predatory mortgage loans exploded, fueling an unsustainable housing bubble. Regulators lifted rules requiring banks to keep adequate capital, and a laissez-faire approach to securitization, derivatives, and proprietary trading encouraged excessive risk-taking on Wall Street. As a member of the Board of Governors, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and then ultimately as Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. Bernanke supported each of these decisions, failing to take the necessary precautionary steps that could have averted or mitigated financial collapse.

“These failures are very relevant to the future. We need economic leaders who understand that the ultimate goal of economic policies and the key to meaningful economic recovery should be financially successful families, not oversized Wall Street profits.

“Indeed, it should be recognized that although Wall Street prospered in the short-term from reduced leverage requirements, securitization of faulty mortgages, and the explosion of derivatives, Americans did not. The expansion that occurred from 2002 to 2007 became the first economic expansion in which working families were worse off at the end than at the beginning. This is not a path that we can afford to travel again.”
 
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