Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Advisor Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Reuters Future Face of Finance Summit in Washington, March 1, 2011. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
No presidential appointment, no Senate confirmation, matters more than the one that will soon come for the post of chairman of the Federal Reserve.
If ever there was a time to ask for more—and better—this is it.
Yet, for the most part, official Washington is on autopilot, preparing for the replacement of outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke with another predictable insider—perhaps even the ultimate predictable insider: former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.
President Obama, who says he will make his selection this fall, has defended Summers. A number of prominent Democratic senators have suggested that the president consider a more appealing prospect: Janet Yellen, the vice chair of the board of governors of the Fed.
But not everyone is satisfied with predictable prospects, or politics as usual.
Senators Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, keep making the right demands and asking the right questions.
Several weeks ago, Sanders suggested that, instead of narrowing the choice to Summers—and Yellen—Obama should be considering a wider range of contenders, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz or former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
There’s every reason to talk up Stiglitz and Reich.
But, no matter who the nominee is, Sanders and Warren argue this week in a Huffington Post column that “the next Fed chair will have an opportunity to get our economy back on track and to help rebuild America’s middle class. But that will require the right temperament and a willingness to take on Wall Street CEOs when necessary. It is critical that the next Fed chair make a genuine, long-term commitment to supporting those who don’t have armies of lobbyists and lawyers to advance their interests in Washington—working and middle-class families.”