Earlier in the week I argued that Boxer isn’t Coakley, and that if she took a strong populist stand against the banks, she would help strengthen her position even more as we enter the campaign cycle.
Sure enough, Boxer is already moving down that very path, announcing her opposition to Ben Bernanke’s reconfirmation as Federal Reserve chair:
I have a lot of respect for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. When the financial crisis hit in late 2008, he took some important steps to prevent what many economists believe could have been an even greater economic catastrophe.
However, it is time for a change – it is time for Main Street to have a champion at the Fed. Dr. Bernanke played a lead role in crafting the Bush administration’s economic policies, which led to the current economic crisis. Our next Federal Reserve Chairman must represent a clean break from the failed policies of the past.
This is exactly the right messaging to use at exactly the right moment. Already Boxer’s move is being hailed as being a possible backbreaker for the Bernanke nomination, showing that Boxer has the right political instincts and timing, as well as the right policy. She was joined later in the day by Russ Feingold.
Calitics alum David Dayen argues this is a crucial turning point in policy toward the banks:
We’re seeing a tectonic shift here in the balance of power in the White House and in Congress. Obama’s release of the Volcker proposal to limit bank size clearly moved power away from Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. That Geithner is leaking out his opposition, and making the arguments of the bank lobby in doing so, shows this pretty explicitly.
It’s very good to see Boxer taking leadership on these issues, especially as the White House “fails to rise to the occasion”, in Paul Krugman’s damning words.