The Senate has chosen the nation's foremost central banker for the next four years, and he's a familiar face already. In a 70 to 30 vote Thursday afternoon, senators confirmed Ben S. Bernanke to a second term as Federal Reserve chairman.[IMAGE]
Fellow economists have credited the Fed chief with pulling the U.S. economy back from the brink of collapse and preventing a sequel of the Great Depression, but lawmakers have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of Bernanke for failing to nip the financial crisis in the bud.
In hours of heated debate on the Senate floor before the vote, outspoken Democrats and Republicans alike accused Bernanke and the Federal Reserve of looking the other way as banks engaged in reckless lending practices, hocked unsustainable subprime loans, and fueled a housing crash[COLUMN_BREAK]
thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s left many Americans without a home and wiped out the publicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s confidence in consumer protections.
But enough senators eventually cast their vote in BernankeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s favor to seal the deal for the Fed chairman to continue as the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most powerful economic policymaker beyond Sunday, when his first term expires. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a landslide victory though Ã¢â‚¬" the ayes won by the narrowest margin to confirm a central bank chief since the formation of the Federal Reserve 96 years ago.
President Obama nominated Bernanke for a second term back in August, and has credited the Republican, who was originally chosen by George W. Bush as Alan GreenspanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s successor, as Ã¢â‚¬Å“bold and brilliant in his attempts to combat the financial crisis.Ã¢â‚¬Â The president has been joined by a number of other pundits who have stressed the importance of continuity as the nation inches closer to recovery.
Obama offered his congratulations upon news of BernankeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s confirmation. Ã¢â‚¬Å“As the nation continues to face the consequences of the worst recession in a generation, Ben Bernanke has provided wisdom and steady leadershipÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.I congratulate him on his confirmation and look forward to working with him in the days ahead,"" the president said.
As his second term begins, Bernanke and his team will face the monumental task of pulling back the FedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s epic intervention to prop up the U.S. financial system, including ending its purchases of mortgages and closing down its credit facilities.