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Senate considering radical move to confirm Bernanke with a simple majority

This is just an appalling way for the Senate to act.

When it comes to progressive priorities in the Senate, there's one standard: 60 votes are needed. But for Ben Bernanke, there's a second standard: 50 will be just fine, thank you.

Democratic leaders in the Senate are asking colleagues who are reluctant to support Bernanke's nomination for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman to nevertheless vote with them to end a filibuster and allow a vote on the actual nomination. The reluctant members would then be free to vote no to express their displeasure. Several Democrats have committed to just that and others are considering it.

I mean, 51 votes? What sort of a supermajority is that?

Less snarkily, people should watch the list that votes no on confirmation but yes on procedure very carefully. They no longer have the credibility to argue that procedural votes and actual votes are indistinguishable.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 26, 2010; 1:16 PM ET
 
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Comments

This is a hoot.

John

Posted by: toshiaki | January 26, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Just like it's time to take your money out of big banks, it's also time for true progressives to leave the Democratic party.

I'm already gone.

Posted by: Lomillialor | January 26, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"They no longer have the credibility to argue that procedural votes and actual votes are indistinguishable." And when did a little credibility loss stop anyone in politics?

Posted by: golewso | January 26, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to argue with this since it should be the norm, and a less-obstructed process for approving nominees is badly needed.

But still, the double standard galls.

Posted by: adamiani | January 26, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

This just shows the reality that is clear to anyone who is paying attention: Making the Banksters happy matters; the fate of the rest of us is totally irrelevant.

Posted by: AZProgressive | January 26, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I think this would be an appropriate time and place to add the truism that is appallingly proved to be a truism in unimaginable and gory relief over the past seven months.

There is no better Republican than a Democrat in office.

Were that it were only a cliche and not a truism.

Posted by: teoc2 | January 26, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Paul Krugman that Bernanke is slow to understand the changes we require in the banking system. Now is a terrible time to go back to square one. Folks in the center and to the left politically must see that voting down Obama's nomination hands everything back to the Right, and we will get nothing progressive done in the next three years.

The fact is that if Bernanke is so objectionable now that it is time to vote, he was objectionable months ago when it would have been a great time to suggest an alternative Chairman.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | January 26, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Where's the deal-making? If Bernake gets confirmed AND we change the Senate rules to prohibit filibusters of nominees, then that's a fair deal. But if Bernake gets confirmed and we still let dozens of other nominees flounder because they have 'only' 59 votes, then this is just silly.

Posted by: tomveiltomveil | January 26, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that it looks like the people who are voting yes on cloture and are considering voting no on the nomination are people like Boxer and Leahy, who have not been the problem children in the health care debate etc.

It seems that progressive senators are more likely to have concerns about Bernanke, but would have to think twice about breaking with the party on cloture because that would further solidify the idea that 60 votes are necessary for everything. It's not likely to keep conservadems from defecting on cloture votes, but if at least it preserves the argument that cloture votes and votes on bills should be different (for whatever that principle is worth to conservadems seeking press and leverage).

Posted by: Azelie | January 26, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"They no longer have the credibility to argue that procedural votes and actual votes are indistinguishable."

This really stinks, but hold your cries of hypocrisy. The opponents of Bernanke in the Dem caucus are likely to be the most liberal members, who were not making the argument that cloture and a yes vote are the same during the health care debate. It was their "moderate", "centrist" colleagues (Bayh, Nelson, Landrieu, etc.) who are to the right of Bernanke and will be voting for him.

Posted by: jjohn2 | January 26, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Lomiallor, I don't understand what leaving the Democratic party will do that you think is so great. You mentioned in another thread that you were leaving for third parties. For better or worse (ok, I think worse) we have a system that makes third parties almost impossible to organize as a major force against the two national parties. Even all this noise about the tea party-ers will die down and they'll just get to take the reigns of the party for a few years. Of course, I'm pretty sure the tea party-ers are going to end up just as popular as the neo-cons, the last group to take hold.

The bottom line is that in 5, 10, 20 years the US will probably still have two major parties approximating the left and right of the political spectrum.

Posted by: MosBen | January 26, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

voting for a third party may seem like a futile gesture but it's a self-fulfilling prophecy to say that our only choice is between the lesser of two evils. both parties need to know that we aren't captured voters. voting for a third party is better than not voting.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | January 26, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

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