With the filibuster gone, President Obama now has a chance to dramatically reshape the Federal Reserve, and offer Republicans exactly nothing in exchange.
In a span of only a few months, Obama is expected to appoint at least four of the Fed’s seven governors to the influential board that sets America’s monetary policy. These picks will show just how aggressively the White House plans to exploit its appointment powers in the new filibuster-free Senate.
Previous attempts to install his economist of choice at the Fed were met with Republican opposition, and ultimately obstruction. Remember Nobel Prize winner Peter Diamond, who withdrew amid united GOP opposition in 2011.
Obama then resorted to appointing a Democrat and Republican together to mollify the GOP minority and break the confirmation logjam. (No president had appointed a Fed governor of the opposite party since 1988, although a handful of reappointments were made.)
Now, such appeasement is unnecessary and unlikely.
“The Republican point of view is so diminished at this point it’s almost irrelevant,” said a senior Senate Republican aide.
In practical terms, this means Obama could put forward a series of doves — economists largely favored by Democrats because they support lower interest rates and looser monetary policy — instead of the hawks that Republicans typically prefer.
But political party doesn’t always align with hawkish and dovish tendencies. And for Obama to take full advantage of the new filibuster restrictions, he will need to ensure all Democratic senators get in line because he is unlikely to get any Republican support on any nominee after Democrats took away the GOP’s most powerful tool.
“What the nuclear option has done is unified Republicans. With few exceptions they will vote against every nominee,” says Brian Gardner, senior vice president of Washington research at investment firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. “If it emboldens the White House to get more liberal, they may find that a number of Democrats are going to abandon them and there’s no way they can attract Republicans in some of these circumstances.”
Indeed, while Janet Yellen’s nomination to replace Bernanke as Fed chief is likely not at risk — she already cleared the Banking Committee with some GOP support and is expected to retain the support of at least 51 Democrats — Obama has to be careful with other picks.
And he’ll need to act quickly if he wants Yellen to start her term with a full-strength committee. Most prominent among the names floated to fill vacant spots at the Fed is Lael Brainard, who served as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for international affairs for the past three and a half years. Brainard advised Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign and was also an adviser to the Clinton administration.
Brainard’s name was floating around prior to the filibuster reform’s passage last week; new names have yet to surface for the board in the interim.
One position, formerly held by Elizabeth Duke, has been vacant since summer. Another board member, Sarah Bloom Raskin, has been nominated to a position at Treasury, and the Senate Finance Committee held her confirmation hearing last week.
And those seats could be just the start. Jerome Powell’s term ends in January, although the president could reappoint him. There has been talk Jeremy Stein may decide to depart next year to keep his tenure at Harvard. And there are questions about whether Daniel Tarullo, another Fed governor, will want to stick around once Yellen is in charge.
Obama and Senate Democrats, if they stay united, alone can determine all of the replacements. And Republicans are left to fret from the sidelines.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."