copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
The adage is “Time moves on.” The assumption is all will get better. However, for the little people in the United States, those who work, pay taxes, and still cannot make ends meet, life has been a backward motion. Throughout the history of America, it was believed the people, with the assistance of elected Representatives, and well-chosen regulators would ensure that the United States was solid, strong, and fiscally viable. Currently the public is told. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has saved the country from certain crash. However, for the first time in generations, the population feels as though it is in free fall.
Children cannot necessarily expect to earn more than their parents. The plight of average American Moms and Dads is, in 2009, the burden of their brood. Each asks, as they had not felt a need to do only years earlier. Who will build a better America?
Policymakers, once thought to have that charge assigned to them , today are insensitive to the needs of the people who labor for a living. Those in the Halls of Congress and government offices, elected and appointed, disregard the realities of those who reap little if any real rewards. Public policy officials praise each other, pat the backs of those responsible for the nation’s decline. Indeed, Administrators are anointed and then reappointed, just as Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has been and is about to be!
Presidents and Representatives have long reveled in the presence of the Federal Reserve Chairman who helped make the once possible and predictable American Dream, now impossible. This week, as Ben Bernanke’s second appointment was being considered US Senators posed pointed questions in regards to the role Of Fed, But Largely Praise the Chair, Bernanke. A few within the Senate Banking Committee were critical. Nonetheless, the conventional wisdom was Ben Bernanke would be easily approved again. Then Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont spoke.
The Senator pointed out that the Fed Chair has held the position for years. On this occasion, he, Sanders, would do all he could to stop another Bernanke appointment. It seemed, until this moment, just as inn the past, no one apart from Bernie Sanders had dared to even stall or block the process. Certainly, Congress would present arguments, offer advice, grand stand, and then make the supreme gesture. Ben Bernanke would be anointed in charge of the people’s cash. With the Senate Floor under his feet and the face of a stunned Bernanke in his sight, Bernie Sanders spoke of what no one else had the courage to do, at least not while in the Congressional Chambers.
“The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few,” Sanders said. “What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy.” . . .
“The American people want a new direction on Wall Street and at the Fed. They do not want as chairman someone who has been part of the problem and who has been responsible for many of the enormous difficulties that we are now experiencing,” . . .
The Federal Reserve has four main responsibilities: to conduct monetary policy in a way that leads to maximum employment and stable prices; to maintain the safety and soundness of financial institutions; to contain systemic risk in financial markets; and to protect consumers against deceptive and unfair financial products.
Since Bernanke took over as Fed chairman in 2006, unemployment has more than doubled and, today, 17.5 percent of the American workforce is either unemployed or underemployed.
Not since the Great Depression has the financial system been as unsafe, unsound, and unstable as it has been during Mr. Bernanke’s tenure. More than 120 banks have failed since he became chairman.
Under Bernanke’s watch, the value of risky derivatives held at our nation’s top commercial banks grew from $110 trillion to more than $290 trillion, 95 percent of which are concentrated in just five financial institutions.
Bernanke failed to prevent banks from issuing deceptive and unfair financial products to consumers. Under his leadership, mortgage lenders were allowed to issue predatory loans they knew consumers could not afford to repay. This risky practice was allowed to continue long after the FBI warned in 2004 of an “epidemic” in mortgage fraud.
After the financial crisis hit, Bernanke’s response was to provide trillions of dollars in virtually zero-interest loans and other taxpayer assistance to some of the largest financial institutions in the world. Adding insult to injury, Bernanke refused to tell the American people the names of the institutions that received this handout or the terms involved.
“Mr. Bernanke has failed at all four core responsibilities of the Federal Reserve. It’s time for him to go.”
Senator Sanders stressed and asked, under Ben Bernanke, what happened to the middle class. Average Americans could not sustain a comfortable life. Mothers and Fathers feel as though they have failed. Yet, without guilt for abundant greed, the banks flourished. Parents poured out their hearts and expressed pain to progeny they yearn to support. Young children learned to fear whether there would be adequate food or shelter. Adolescents postponed their dreams. Some near adulthood have come to realize they cannot consider college education an option.
It is not that teens and twenty-something’s do not work hard enough to succeed in school. Indeed, the young must labor harder and harder. There are bills to pay. Moms and Dad’s are often unemployed,, or barely hanging on. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke receives accolades from the ruling class, big businesses, banks, and beneficiaries of policies that further profits for the few, and force the many into bankruptcy and foreclosure.
Health care costs have soared in the recent years. The reality is employers no long guarantee benefits. Indeed, 0ut of pockets expenses charged to laborers are on the rise. Companies have cut back. People are pleased just to have paychecks. Consequently countless have made the sacrifice. Less funds, increased hours, such is the life of paid staff in America during an economic recession, or so is the explanation.
The past is and was prologue. As the American people reflect on The Great Depression and draw comparisons, they sense the pressure is on. Vermont Senator Sanders accepts that, and hopes to alleviate the load on the people. Just as he had tried to do in the Spring of the year Senator Bernie Sanders, on behalf of the American people asked the critical question. Might the American citizens insist that every Senator and the President pose the same. Why would we the people, the country wish to hire Ben Bernanke again? What has he done with the people’s money, to meet the needs of the American population, and why?
The voice from Vermont bellowed what had Chairman Bernanke done and an actual answer could not be heard.
Americans could know, under the direction of Ben Bernanke financial institutions have been allowed to hide from regulators and regulations. Banks have built an empire. Numerous financial firms failed. Faulty oversight, aggressive acquisitions, and an insatiable hunger for greater profits have driven the country to the brink.
However, most citizens are by necessity concerned with their own daily doings. The few amongst the electorate who have time or energy to read the papers, listen to the news might acknowledge as Bernie Sanders has. Ben Bernanke has been lauded with much praise from powerbrokers and The White House under Republican and Democratic rule. The people could say as the Vermont Senator has; Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke has not built a better America.
This reality is invisible from government limousines, or from the vantage point of officials who walk on the most venerated streets within the District of Columbia. Thankfully Bernie Sanders has stayed in touch. He talks of what is real for the American people, those not in the beltway. Perhaps, the question not asked in the Senate Banking Committee hearing is, who will build a better America, Ben Bernanke, or Bernie Sanders, with the help of the electorate.
References, Regulators, Representatives, and the Republic . . .
- Bernie Sanders Puts Hold on Bernanke. Senator Bernie Sanders. December 2, 2009
- Sanders Block Bernanke Confirmation. Senator Bernie Sanders. December 2, 2009
- Senators critical of Bernanke at hearing, By Neil Irwin. Washington Post. December 4, 2009
- US Senators Question Role Of Fed But Largely Praise Bernanke, NASDAQ. December 3, 2009