Ben Bernanke was forced to play defense in his confirmation hearing today, as the Senate Banking Committee rained down criticism on the Fed and its chairman. Some, like Chris Dodd, signaled approval of Bernanke’s leadership but not of the Fed’s bid for increased regulatory control. “Why should I give an institution that failed that type of exclusive authority?” demanded Dodd. Republicans like Richard Shelby were even less kind, attacking Bernanke’s actions directly.
Jim Bunning called Bernanke “the definition of a moral hazard,” promising to try to block his appointment to a second 4-year term. Independent Bernie Sanders confirmed his threat to put a hold on the nomination, which would require 60 votes to override. But Bernanke, who is likely to be confirmed anyway, defended himself and the Fed’s regulatory power grab, saying it would help prevent another crisis: “We must take care that the Federal Reserve remains effective and independent.”