Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke continued his testimony on Capitol Hill today in front of the Senate Banking Committee. Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, a committee member, tells Bill Radke about concerns he’s had with Bernanke’s leadership.
TEXT OF INTERVIEW
BILL RADKE: Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke continues his testimony on Capitol Hill today. Yesterday, he told a House committee the economy will keep recovering, but things are still ugly enough that interest rates will stay rock-bottom for an extended period. Today, Bernanke moves to the Senate Banking Committee. Joining us now is a committee member who voted against Bernanke’s confirmation last month, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley. Good morning.
JEFF MERKLEY: Good morning, it’s great to be with you.
RADKE: Bernanke made his big low-interest rate pronouncement to the House. So what’s left to talk about today in the Senate?
MERKLEY: Well, I really hope he will jump into to address this issue of small business lending, and I hope he’ll take on fairness to consumers. The Fed had responsibility of fairness to consumers when many, many things were done that were absolutely unfair. And so he’s in a position to say now, had it to do over again, here’s what I would have done.
RADKE: Why did you want Bernanke out of the job?
MERKLEY: What it came down to is every decision that he made increased risk in the system. Now, people gave him a lot of credit for saying that once it blew up, he did an adept job of keeping the fire hose focused on the fire and putting it out. But my point was we need to rebuild an economy, and is a person who set the situation up for the economy to burn down really the person you want to take us forward? And my answer to that was a resounding “No.”