Sanders appeals to Dems to vote against Bernanke

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday pressed fellow members of the chamber's Democratic caucus to oppose a second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke -- a nominee he described as "one of the key architects of George's Bush's economic agenda."

In a letter Monday to other senators, Sanders stressed the country's financial system has been "unsafe, unsound and unstable" under Bernanke's leadership.

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He then called on Democrats to reject Bernanke's nomination on the grounds his stewardship of the central bank would only continue to harm middle-class families.

"The American people gave us the responsibility to bring about change, not the maintenance of the status quo," said Sanders, one of the first senators to place a hold on Bernanke's confirmation vote. "Why, at this difficult moment in American history, should we reappoint Wall Street’s candidate as chairman of the Fed?"

Sanders is among a growing group of lawmakers from both parties who seek to scuttle Bernanke's nomination for a second term. He is joined by the likes of Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Byron Dorgan (N.D.), as well as Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Jim Bunning (Ky.) Jim DeMint (S.C.) and David Vitter (La.), among possibly many others, pushing for his ouster.

However, Democratic leaders maintain they can still advance Bernanke's nomination before his term expires on January 30.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) last week also predicted the chairman would again win confirmation with "bipartisan support," though he offered no indication of how he, personally, might vote.

But Sanders' letter on Monday signals he remains committed to steering unsure Democrats away from supporting Bernanke. Interestingly enough, neither Demoratic leaders nor the White House have contacted the senator to ask him to cease and desist, his office told The Hill.

"Instead of confirming one of the key architects of George Bush’s economic agenda, a new nominee could transform the Fed into a central bank committed to the needs of the middle class of this country rather than powerful Wall Street executives responsible for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," Sanders wrote.