Political Animal


November 02, 2011 4:05 PM Bernanke less-than subtle message to Congress

By Steve Benen

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke to reporters after the Fed’s policy meeting this afternoon, and shared some important thoughts on job-creation efforts.

“With respect to the current economy we are currently continuing our accommodative monetary policy. We are trying to do our best to support economic growth and job creation. It would be helpful if we could get assistance from some other parts of the government to work with us to help create more jobs.” [emphasis added]

From time to time, it’s worth pausing to appreciate the fact that Bernanke, despite being a conservative Republican first appointed by George W. Bush, has been increasingly audacious on this front, telling GOP lawmakers what they don’t want to hear.

In October, the Fed chairman urged Congress to focus on job creation, embracing government spending policies that “support growth.” In September, Bernanke pleaded with Republicans not to cut spending in ways that that would hurt economic growth

In August, Bernanke not-so-subtly urged Congress to adopt a short-term stimulus to give the economy a boost. In July, the Fed chairman told Congress that “sharp and excessive cuts in the very short term would be potentially damaging to that recovery.”

And now he’s making the case that “some other parts of the government” — psst, Congress, I think he’s talking to you — need to try to create more jobs.

Republicans, of course, not only choose to ignore Bernanke’s advice, they’ve come to perceive his suggestions in the same light as advice from the CBO, economists, the financial industry, the bond market, business leaders, and economic textbooks — pesky reality that stands in conflict with far-right ideology, and must therefore be rejected.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • stormskies on November 02, 2011 4:18 PM:

    These evil Repiglican Congresspeople, and Senators should charged and arrested for sedition. All of them frog marched out of the House of Representatives and straight into prison. Once there all of them should be turned into bitches for the enjoyment of the inmates. Now that they are felon's they can be turned loose on the streets and made to exist as poor people who have been homeless just as they have caused so many innocent Americans to be due to their purposeful destruction of our economy for the benefit of all their former wealthy patrons who now will not have the time to flip a dime in their pathetic tin cups ..........

  • square1 on November 02, 2011 4:21 PM:

    I think it is a little unfair to expect our leaders to focus on job creation when they have the all-important issue of deficit reduction to address.

  • Jim H on November 02, 2011 4:42 PM:

    I think it is a little unfair to expect our leaders to focus on job creation when they have the all-important issue of deficit reduction to address.

    And mottoes. Don't forget mottoes...

  • T2 on November 02, 2011 4:51 PM:

    Bernanke is a Pre-Tea GOPer and as such, still has a little sense. He sees what's happening just like everyone else does. He also knows that his little place in history will be that he was at the helm when the Economy tanked under Bush and then had to watch recovery stall at the hands of the very imbeciles who voted in the policies that caused the mess (on his watch). And now sit there and watch the GOP lay the blame at his feet.
    Tough life, huh, Ben?

  • Mark-NC on November 02, 2011 5:10 PM:

    "Bernanke less-than subtle message to Congress"

    The problem here is that Republicans (Congress) don't give a damn. The "message" should be blatantly in-your-face for the knothead public and the lazy press that won't cover the reality of obstruction.

  • square1 on November 02, 2011 5:10 PM:

    And mottoes. Don't forget mottoes...

    At least mottoes do no economic harm. I can't say the same for the super committee.

  • gone_west on November 02, 2011 5:13 PM:

    Christy Romer's op-ed in the Sunday Times was to the point about Bernanke needing to seize the moment and suggested trategies Bernanke could pursue in this listless period of no job growth. With today's lack of action by the Fed, Bernanke proves again he is not the man for the season, but simply a disingenuous whiner, apparently more interested in not upsetting the Republicans in Congress rather than calling them out for their obstructionism. He needs to go. And when he does, he should take the banker's bagman, Timothy Geithner, with him.

  • Patrick on November 02, 2011 6:58 PM:

    "It would be helpful if we could get assistance from some other parts of the government to work with us to help create more jobs.”

    Then why doesn't President Obama support the Republicans' job plans? Since those are the only ones that can survive a filibuster in the Senate and pass the House?

    Or, simply have himself and Biden both resign, and so with a Republican President, we can get some action in this economy at last.

  • Doug on November 02, 2011 8:17 PM:

    Patrick, if Republican/Teabaggers refuse to act, there WILL be "some action in this economy", just not the type that will help elect Republican/Teabaggers in 2012. I doubt the "actions" on the economy you wish to see happen would help it anyway. After all, most gold mining operations are outside the US and the best yachts are built in Europe and what else is there for the already rich beneficiaries of "your" economy to purchase?
    If Republican/Teabaggers wish to carry out a coup d'etat using the threat of destroying the economy as the means, why don't you just say so? It's not as if Republican/Teabaggers have recently shown ANY desire to carry out their oath of office. You know, the one that says "support the Constitution of the United States".
    The current Speaker isn't qualified for the post he holds, let alone to be considered as an occupant of the Oval Office; yet you seem to think things would improve under such an administration? Frankly, set against the idea of President Obama and Vice President Biden resigning, there's a much better chance of every lying Republican/Teabagger Senator and Representative being charged with, and convicted of, perjury, criminal malfeasance and contributing to the deliquincy of a political party.
    So that would be a "No" to your idea...

  • robert waldmann on November 02, 2011 11:03 PM:

    Why do you write that Bernanke is a "conservative Republican." He is definitely a Republican, but "conservative Republican" used to be used to refer to the right more Republicans. This in a post where you note that his position is to the left of Ben Nelson's.

    I think you mean "a conservative and a Republican" but that's not the normal usage of "conservative Republican" which excludes moderate Republicans who are conservative on the overall scale.

    Bernanke is not noticibly conservative for an economist. I learned he was a Republican when Bush nominated him CEA chairman. I think he is a moderate Republican, one of the very few remaining moderate Republicans.

    Certainly his efforts at the Fed have been anyting but conservative. He has tried more radical policy experiments. He is anything but a small c conservative. Those experiments were desperate extreme unprecedented efforts to stimulate the economy. Current Fed policy is slamming on the gas much much much harder than the Fed ever has before.

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