Politics

Ben Bernanke, Enemy of Health Care Reform?

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Doh!

It's tough to say for sure whether Fed chief Ben Bernanke's reconfirmation is really in serious trouble, but the fact that there's any doubt—and that folks like Paul Krugman are deeming it necessary to step in with grumbling defenses of his necessity—isn't the most promising sign for his future. It's still likely, however, that this is more of a thematic outburst intended to bolster the Democrats' impending banker beatdown rather a genuine move to oust the guy. But as Noam Schieber points out, even if that's true, the Obama administration's struggle to get Bernanke through is likely to have additional ramifications for the Democratic agenda:

The White House… believes it's really important to confirm Bernanke. But the implications of this are unappetizing to say the least. For one thing, if you're going to knock heads together to get Bernanke through the Senate next week, it'll make it a lot tougher to subsequently knock a bunch of heads together for health care. (The Senate would presumably have to pass some fixes to its original bill, which the House would insist on before passing it.) Which is to say, I think there's a chance Bernanke kills whatever slim hope we have of getting health care done.

The larger point here is that the health care reform effort has already consumed more than its allotted share of legislative and political resources, and at this point, it's starting to seriously threaten other agenda items. I'll have more to say on this topic in a column later today, but the gist is this: Given that compromise measures (like breaking up the bill) would take additional weeks of effort—weeks which wouldn't even be certain to produce a payoff—it's rather unlikely at this point that any of the novel solutions currently making the rounds are likely to produce outcomes of any substance.  

NEXT: The New Transparency

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  1. …it’s starting to seriously threaten other agenda items.

    Woohoo! I love gridlock in government.

    1. Oh yes gridlock is our friend!

  2. There’s an election coming; paralysis is virtually guaranteed.

    *crosses fingers*

  3. You’re doing a heckuva job, Bernie.

  4. The larger point good news here is that the health care reform effort has already consumed more than its allotted share of legislative and political resources, and at this point, it’s starting to seriously threaten other agenda items.

  5. “kills whatever slim hope we have of getting health care done.”

    ‘Hope of getting it done?”
    I certainly hope it’s done, but no the way *he* does.

  6. Funny thing; Bennay apparently “promised” Harry Reid he would shove money through the pipeline, and get credit flowing.

    Failing to reappoint him would result in a politicised Fed, though.

  7. Are we going to get a “Prince Renounces Throne” thread?

  8. Hey, if Bernanke’s reconfirmation turns into a huge clusterfuck that takes up all of DC’s time, I can totally get behind that.

  9. “It’s still likely, however, that this is more of a thematic outburst intended to bolster the Democrats’ impending banker beatdown rather a serious move to oust the guy.”

    Just before you guys go off on your tangents, you get so close to “getting it”…

    There’s nothing more to the ongoing (rather than “impending”) banker beat down than meets the eye. It really is just about populism. They don’t want the bankers paying out massive bonuses under their watch, and they’re willing to do just about anything to make sure “big bonus” doesn’t happen.

    They don’t really want the banks to stop taking risks (making loans), and they know as well as the rest of us that unemployment won’t go down much until banks start making loans again. (You guys do know that the economy won’t improve much until the banks start lending again, don’t you?)

    But it doesn’t really have anything to do with policy prescriptions at all. They just don’t want big bonuses paid.

    They don’t care about Glass?Steagall, either way. They’re some of the same people who forced the BofA/Merrill merger; they’re some of the same bunch who forcibly “sold” WaMu to Morgan…

    They just don’t want Wall Street paying out big bonuses on their watch. It’s about populism, guys. That’s it. There’s nothing more here…

    The guiding purpose of the Obama Administration’s economic policy is to stop Wall Street from paying big bonuses on their watch, which may be a stupid way to run the government, but that’s never stopped anyone before.

    Why waste time and effort worrying about how to get the banks lending again when you can score more political points publicly skewering bankers? Who cares if the unemployment rate is 10%? As long as the Obama Administration gets reelected, right?

    Has anyone in American history ever lost an election for beating up bankers?

    1. You guys do know that the economy won’t improve much until the banks start lending again, don’t you?

      Exactly. Which is why we’re very likely to have high unemployment and a weak economy for the better part of the decade… or longer.

  10. By the way, if you guys haven’t noticed, this beat down of the fed chair at such an inopportune time, (first part of the recovery) is in no small part due to the efforts one Mr. Ron Paul. …which just goes to show that you can’t trust any politician not to think politically.

    The last thing we needed was uncertainty in the fed leadership, but it’s the same principle at work. We saw the same principle at work in that newsletter embarrassment of his too.

    Who cares if what I’m saying makes any sense? Who cares if it hurts the economy?

    …so long as it panders to my base.

  11. The last thing we needed was uncertainty in the fed leadership,

    I would say the last thing we need is self-aggrandizing incompetence in the fed leadership. But that’s just me.

  12. At this point, I don’t think any serious work is actually being done on health care reform anyway.

    But I am happy that it’s kill cap-n-trade and crippled financial regulation.

  13. On second thought … it’s possible that we can now use the Democrat’s desperation to pass *something* to get some market-oriented reforms pushed through. Repeal McCarran-Fergeson (progressives would be on board with that). Fix the deductions so it doesn’t favor employer based insurance.

    Personally, I’d also add some regulatory tweaks so insurance companies can’t get out of the contract after a policy holder gets sick, without a really good reason. (i.e. insurance fraud.) And hold them responsible for long-term chronic conditions.

  14. Is it wrong that I find his large, smooth, veiny head so attractive?

  15. Yes.

    And creepy.

    Very, very creepy.

  16. Is it wrong that I find his large, smooth, veiny head so attractive?

    Maybe you shouldn’t have had your first sexual experience while “The Menagerie” was on in the TV room.

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