President Obama never had an easy path to winning confirmation for the next head of the Federal Reserve. But he’s decided to make it all the more difficult by introducing Janet Yellen at a time when congressional ire has hit new heights — and his opponents are already touting plans to make the nominee’s life difficult.
Obama is reportedly planning to send Yellen’s name to the Senate Wednesday, asking the chamber to confirm her as the next head of the world’s most powerful central bank.
More than most nominees, the pick for Fed director has traditionally been the prerogative of the president, as senators have been reticent to risk the market turmoil that could result from a prolonged battle over the bank’s leader. But at a time when Republicans have demonstrated their willingness to use any and all means available to leverage policy concessions, there’s no reason to believe that that precedent will be enough to usher Yellen through an easy confirmation.
Indeed, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has already said he’ll use the nomination to look for leverage to pass legislation requiring a deeper audit of the Federal Reserve, a long-time dream of former Rep. Ron Paul, another Republican from Texas, that has become a mainstream goal of the modern GOP.
“That gives the opportunity to leverage,” Cruz said this summer when asked about Obama’s upcoming Fed nominee. “I certainly hope that, working together, we could force a vote on the Audit the Fed bill.”
Yellen’s nomination also comes at the nadir of relations between Republicans and the Federal Reserve. Chairman Ben Bernanke was first picked by former President George W. Bush, but his efforts to shock the economy into a stronger recovery have stretched his ties with Republicans well beyond their breaking point.
Conservative critics argue Bernanke’s hyperactive bank has put the country at risk of investment bubbles and inflation shocks while providing limited return in terms of economic growth. And with the rise of the Tea Party, Bernanke’s visits to the Hill have grown more contentious. At a July hearing in the House, Bernanke begged the House Financial Services Committee Republicans to avoid drama over the debt limit, only to be told by a pair of legislators that he was overstepping his bounds.
Yellen is now being thrown into the middle of that debate, and there’s no indication she plans to move the bank in a direction that will garner GOP approval. Yellen is viewed as — if anything — more aggressive than Bernanke in her monetary policy, and she has staunchly defended the Fed’s efforts to use easy money to fight unemployment.
As with all nomination fights, the most likely outcome is that the Senate will eventually confirm Yellen to to head the Fed, handing her Bernanke’s place when his term expires in 2014. But given the current political climate, her path will be neither quick nor painless.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”