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The last episode of the Bunning and Bernanke show?

By Neil Irwin
Regulars at Ben Bernanke hearings on Capitol Hill know that many of his usual interlocutors on the Senate Banking Committee use recurring themes during their questioning. When the Federal Reserve chairman goes before the committee this afternoon for his semi-annual testimony on monetary policy, for example, there is a good chance that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) will complain that interest rates were too low during the early part of the 2000s, and that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will push Bernanke to move more aggressively on regulating credit cards and mortgage loans.

But even when senators criticize Bernanke, things remain quite civil. That's not always the case when Sen. Jim Bunning gets his turn. The Kentucky Republican tends to take a more, er, aggressive tack. But this may well be Bernanke's last time to get the Bunning treatment; the former major league pitcher is retiring, so unless Bernanke has to make another appearance before the banking committee this year, this is the end of the Jim and Ben show. One supposes that Bernanke will shed no tears.

Having fired up Nexis, here are some excerpts from Bunning's questioning of Bernanke from the last couple of years. The Hitler reference comes near the end.

"You have decided that just about every large bank, investment bank, insurance company, and even some industrial companies are too big to fail. Rather than making management, shareholders and debtholders feel the consequences of their risk-taking, you bailed them out. In short, you are the definition of a moral hazard."
"From monetary policy to regulation, consumer protection, transparency and independence, your time as Fed chairman has been a failure."
"I will do everything I can to stop your nomination and drag out this process as long as I can."
"Chairman Bernanke's easy money in the last year has undermined the dollar and sent oil prices to a new high every day, and the most doubling since the rate cut started."
"Now the Fed wants to be a systemic risk regulator. But the Fed is a systemic risk. Giving the Fed more power is like giving a neighborhood kid who broke a window playing baseball in the street a bigger bat and thinking that will fix the problem. I'm not going to go along with that, and I will use every power in my arsenal as a senator to stop any new powers going to the Fed."
"When I picked up my newspaper yesterday, I thought I woke up in France. But, no, it turned out it was socialism here in the United States, and very well -- going well. The Treasury secretary is now asking for a blank check to buy as much Fannie and Freddie debt, or equity, as he wants. The Fed purchase of Bear Stearns assets was amateur socialism compared to this."
-- July 15, 2008, monetary policy hearing
"I must take the opportunity to comment on Chairman Bernanke being named Time magazine person of the year yesterday. One financial blogger wrote yesterday that this was like rewarding the captain of the Titanic for getting everyone off the sinking ship after he rammed it into the iceberg. And Chairman Bernanke may wonder if he really wants to be honored by an organization that has previously named people like Josef Stalin twice, Yasser Arafat, Adolf Hitler, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Vladimir Putin, Richard Nixon twice, as their person of the year. But I congratulate him and hope he at least turns out better than most of those people."
-- December 17, 2009, hearing to vote on Bernanke nomination for second term


One side note: the Republican candidate to replace Bunning is Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, a frequent antagonist of Bernanke on the House Financial Services Committee. If the younger Paul were to win and snag a seat on the Senate Banking Committee, perhaps Bernanke will continue to be in the hot seat when a Kentucky senator's name is called.


By Neil Irwin  |  July 21, 2010; 11:43 AM ET
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Comments

I am so glad that Bunning's ability to throw a fastball has contributed so much to the welfare of this country, through his service in the Senate. I am sure that the uncertified doctor, who may replace him, will match his record of respecting the principal of majority governance, by also declaring himself to be the keeper of the legislative gate.

Posted by: daweeni | July 21, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

If y'all want to catch a chickenhawk, you goin about it all wrong.

Look at me when I'm talkin to ya, son.

Posted by: pressF1 | July 21, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

So is Bunning wrong?

How come the U.S. govt. owns a majority share in GM? How come taxpayers are bailing out companies whose executives have become filthy rich while running things into the ground? How come the U.S. is spending money like a drunken sailor with a credit card?

The guy's a jerk. Everyone knows that. But is he wrong?

Posted by: InTheMiddle | July 21, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Bunning is swinging his bat in the right direction, but too late. Where were the hard questions when Greenspan was creating the problems that Bernanke had to fix?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Paraphrasing - "And Senator Bunning may wonder if he really wants to be honored by an organization that has previously named people like George W. Bush - twice, his father, Ronald Reagan, Ken Starr, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Richard Nixon - twice (no reason to delete that one!) as their person of the year."

Too easy.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Bunning sounds like he knows what he's talking about. It just too bad we can't get the rest of Congress to agree and rid the country, once and for all, of the cancerous Federal Reserve and its band of financial terrorists.

Posted by: John991 | July 21, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

We have an uneducated,idiotic baseball pitcher who knows nothing about economics and financial matters against a Harvard or Yale economic graduate. Go figure.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"We have an uneducated,idiotic baseball pitcher who knows nothing about economics and financial matters against a Harvard or Yale economic graduate. Go figure.

Posted by: Anonymous "

Just another example of a State electing the Senator they deserve!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I read all the Bunning excerpts, and I can't find anything factually wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Does one need a Harvard degree to see that pocketing billions riding the housing bubble then dumping the losses when it collapses on the tax payer is morally wrong?

Go to YouTube and see your Harvard Messiah denying the existence of a financial crisis all the way to the bitter end. And watch the non-Harvard commoners warn of the financial crisis years before it happen.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"If the younger Paul were to win and snag a seat on the Senate Banking Committee, perhaps Bernanke will continue to be in the hot seat when a Kentucky senator's name is called."

My God, let's hope so.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Ben Bernanke may have a PhD., but he is an imbecile. In his role as advisor to Alan Greenspan, he urged the deep interest rate cuts that were kept far too long (which he also urged). He wanted rates even lower for even longer, and if he had gotten his way the bubble would have been that much bigger, and the Crash that much deeper. Now, as Fed Chairman, the imbecile has printed trillions of dollars, breaking the trust of millions of people who saved in dollars. This scam will cause an even bigger crash in the next few years.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 22, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Rand Paul in 2010 and Ron Paul in 2012... that will put things on track!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 22, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Rand Paul in 2010 and Ron Paul in 2012! THAT WILL PUT THINGS ON TRACK!

Posted by: tocwc | July 22, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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