WASHINGTON, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of
the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, issued the
following statement on his intention to vote against Ben Bernanke’s nomination
to a second term as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
“Tomorrow, I will vote against confirming Ben Bernanke as
Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The reason, in short, is that as
Chairman, Dr. 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.
“My decision is based on my fundamental belief that our
economy cannot recover if we do not put Main Street first.
“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
“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.”