WASHINGTON — Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said Friday he would vote against granting a second term to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, concluding that Bernanke was partly to blame for the nation’s deep recession and that he is ill-equipped to lead a recovery.
In explaining his decision in a floor speech, Merkley credited Bernanke for the major role he played in keeping the nation from tumbling into a depression.
That is not enough to justify another four-year term, Merkley said, suggesting that that Bernanke was too close to bankers and Wall Street financiers. Merkley, who serves on the Senate Banking Committee, also opposed Bernanke’s nomination for a second term when the question came before the committee.
“But do you hand the job of rebuilding a house that’s been burnt down via fire to the person who helped set the fire to begin with? And Ben Bernanke helped set the fire,’’ he said.
Bernanke, Merkley said, “has been at the table of economic policy making in this country for eight years, when mistake after mistake after mistake has been made.
“That is how the house was set on fire, and now that it’s burned to the ground, we don’t need a fireman to rebuild the house, we need a carpenter. We need somebody who understands that short-term wealth on Wall Street is not the goal of our national economic policy. The goal of our policy is to build the financial foundations for our families, the success of our families,” he said.