Janet Yellen testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2013.
Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

McCain’s weak case against Yellen

Janet Yellen, President Obama’s choice to lead the Federal Reserve, will almost certainly be confirmed by the Senate with bipartisan support. Indeed, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a Senate Banking Committee member, issued a statement this morning endorsing Yellen’s nomination.
Looking ahead, though, she’ll certainly have her detractors.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told reporters on Tuesday he’ll oppose Janet Yellen for Fed chair.
Why? “Because of what’s happening to the economy,” he said. “She wants to continue [Ben] Bernanke’s policies. My state’s still in a recession. Nearly half the homes in my states are still underwater, while Wall Street has gotten very, very wealthy.”
Obviously, senators will have to make their own judgments about Yellen’s qualifications – she’s only the most qualified nominee in the history of the Federal Reserve – but it’d be nice if McCain if approached this with a little more seriousness.
In the senator’s mind, the economy is struggling, Bernanke leads the Fed, Yellen sometimes agrees with Bernanke, ergo, Yellen won’t help the economy. But that’s deeply silly – as Bernanke has tried to explain to lawmakers many, many times, it’s Congress’ fiscal policies that have been a drag on the economy, not quantitative easing that’s helped counteract the damage done by Congress.
If McCain’s upset “because of what’s happening to the economy,” he’d be better off voting against Mitch McConnell, not voting against Yellen.
But the larger issue here is less about Yellen – who’s probably going to be confirmed anyway – and more about the fact that McCain is still so deeply confused by the basics. In 2007, the senator conceded, “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” In 2005, McCain said, “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.”
That was eight years ago. It appears he’s still struggling.

Federal Reserve and John McCain

McCain's weak case against Yellen