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Bernanke expected to be confirmed for second term

The Senate is expected to confirm Ben Bernanke's second four year term as the head of the Federal Reserve but not without some opposition.


REUTERS - White House senior advisers voiced confidence on Sunday that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would be confirmed by the Senate for a second term.

"The president is very confident that the chairman will be confirmed," David Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union" program. "The readings he's getting from his conversations are that Chairman Bernanke will be confirmed."

In a sign of concern about a surge of opposition to Bernanke's renomination, President Barack Obama contacted the Democratic Senate leadership on Saturday to make sure there were enough votes.

Uncertainty about the Senate's confirmation of Bernanke rattled investors last week, contributing to the worst three-day slide for U.S. stocks in 10 months.

Bernanke's second term appeared at risk on Friday after two Senate Democrats announced their opposition.

Bernanke's critics say the Fed failed to prevent the recent financial crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, and fought the meltdown in a way that favored the financial industry at the expense of ordinary citizens.

With congressional elections in November, many lawmakers are unwilling to take any stand that appears to benefit Wall Street, particularly after Tuesday's Republican upset for the Massachusetts Senate seat that had been a Democratic stronghold for decades.

But Obama heard from Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid that there was a lot of support for Bernanke, another senior Obama adviser, Valerie Jarrett, told NBC's "Meet the Press."

The Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell, also told "Meet the Press" he believed Bernanke would win bipartisan support, but would not say whether he would vote for the central banker.


Some Republicans have moved to block Bernanke's confirmation, forcing Senate leaders to secure a super-majority of 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to advance the nomination.

"I think we need a fresh start," Republican Senator John Cornyn told "Fox News Sunday," saying he would oppose Bernanke.

Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate who lost to Obama, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" program he was "both skeptical and leaning against" Bernanke's confirmation.

But Republican Senator Orrin Hatch told CNN he would vote for Bernanke partly out of worry of the nominee the administration would choose in his place.

"There are some things I don't agree with that have been done, but I think he basically has -- has all of the ability to do it," Hatch said. "I'd be terrified of having him replaced by this administration. You never know what you're going to get."

Bernanke, who was first named as chairman by former Republican President George W. Bush, was nominated to a second term by Obama in August.

Axelrod on CNN defended Bernanke's handling of the financial crisis.

"We're still in a fragile state here, even though the economy is growing, and we need his leadership," Axelrod said.

"He has been a very steady hand in this crisis. He's taken initiatives that have been important in terms of stabilizing the economy."

The unemployment rate currently stands at 10 percent, with more than 15 million Americans out of work.

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