fed the end

Congress And Ben Bernanke On Who’s In Charge Of Economy: One Two Three Not It!

After you! No, after you!Whose PROBLEM is this, you might be wondering, as you try desperately to save for your children’s college education, pay off your own student loans, keep up with the mortgage payments on a house worth less than what you owe on it, hope that you do not get sick, and contemplate a retirement age of around 80 (which, incidentally, is three years more than the average lifespan of American men and fourteen years longer than the average lifespan of African American men). Whose PROBLEM is this, you wonder, given that this lifestyle seems somewhere between impossible and unsustainable. The answer, of course, is that it is YOUR problem, DUH, seeing as government cannot create jobs and job creators simply do not want to create jobs. But soon, these years spent pinching pennies and praying for health will seem like some sort of golden age because it is about to get much worse, and everybody is under the impression that it is nobody’s job to do a damn thing about it. This is according to NBC news, which has brought us the appropriately titled article “Fed, Congress Fiddles as US Economy Stumbles.” (No, no one is actually playing a fiddle, and that is probably the most surprising thing in this article):

Via NBC:

There’s no shortage of finger-pointing over whose job it is to save the U.S. from slipping back into recession.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke told a Senate panel Tuesday there’s little he can do to offset the likely economic damage if Congress steers the U.S. economy over a fiscal cliff. Nor, he told lawmakers, is that his job.

“I don’t think that’s my responsibility,” he told the Senate Banking Committee. “I’ve been assigned to focus on maximum employment and price stability, not to hold threats over Congress’ head. Congress is in charge here, not the Federal Reserve.”

Isn’t that comforting? Congress being in charge of anything, let alone the economy? Luckily, they don’t agree with Ben Bernanke that they’re in charge (not that Ben Bernanke being in charge is any more comforting, really) so they’re not going to do anything either.

“We can talk all we want — everyone gives speeches how fiscal policy should be the way to go and we don’t do anything,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y., told Bernanke. “Given the political realities, Mr. Chairman, particularly in this election year, I am afraid the Fed is the only game in town. And I would urge you to take whatever actions you think would be most helpful in supporting a stronger economic recovery.”

So! There we have it. The economy is slowing and nobody thinks that anyone should do anything about it. Luckily, government interference is inversely proportional to our freedom quotients, so we can all look forward to a healthy amount of freedom in 2013.


About the author

Kris E. Benson writes about politics for Wonkette and is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. This will come in handy for when they finally open that philosophy factory in the next town over. @Kris_E_Benson

View all articles by Kris E. Benson
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  1. Goonemeritus

    Well if they are both going to pussy out I would like to throw my hat in the ring. I think it would be fair to characterize my future stewardship of our economy as one based on an extremely loose fiscal policy (everyone is going to get a big envelope in the mail).

    1. sullivanst

      Bernanke's not entirely pussying out, given the Fed has had all of its traditional controls set at "full stimulus" for the last, oh, 46 months now, and on top of that there have been shitloads of nontraditional interventions throughout the banking and shadow banking sectors plus two rounds of quantitative easing.

      Sounds to me like he's mostly calling on Congress to not do anything to really fuck things up, because everything he can do is only just enough to keep us from sliding back further as it is.

      1. Goonemeritus

        Of course you are right the Fed has been about the only thing that has kept this down turn from becoming an ass-chap wearing post-apocalyptic dystopia.

          1. Goonemeritus

            You will never go far wrong by sending a thank you card to whomever they are calling a traitor.

    2. Jukesgrrl

      I'll expect a little extra in my bag, Goon, given all the p I've contributed to you over the years. That's how things work in government, ya know.

      1. Goonemeritus

        Believe me I will draw all no show cabinet positions exclusively from this blog. Rhode Island schools will use the Wonkette as the preeminent example of machine politics.

  2. SorosBot

    "I’ve been assigned to focus on maximum employment and price stability"

    See, the problem is you are only actually focusing on one of those things. But hey, the banks and credit card companies we all get to revel in the joys of 0% inflation while we have no jobs!

  3. SheriffRoscoe

    I blame the gays and the abortionists. Now I can relax and not think about it anymore.

  4. Awful People

    As CSPAN pans around the halls, treating viewers to a montage of legislators holding an index finger over the tips of their noses in a "not it" gesture, the camera finally focuses on Michele Bachmann, preoccupied with the serious work of looking up her colleagues' skirts for Islamic radicals. Michele Bachmann is it.

    Michele Bachmann is it.

        1. bikerlaureate

          Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to s*bscribe to your n*wslett*r.

          (Automoderation doesn't like one of those nouns)

          1. Biel_ze_Bubba

            Because the filters consider us retarded, we're not allowed to subscribe to the intriguing theories presented in your newsletter.

      1. bikerlaureate

        I am TRYING to praise your line of thought, and use the time-honored request for details about your related periodical, but my interest is apparently offensive to IntenseDebate…

  5. actor212

    No, no one is actually playing a fiddle

    Um, Uncle Ernie, I think, was the trope they were going for. You know, Sandusky fiddles.

    1. WhatTheHeck

      … and how exactly is a tiger going to fix the economy after it eats all the job creators?

      1. Extemporanus

        Four words: "FROSTED FLAKES® IS PEOPLE!"

        When you have a bunch of old, white, Republicans standing around trying to decide who's "it", I have a pretty good idea which version of that charming little ditty they'd use.

        It's not just tigers who can't change their stripes…

      2. sullivanst

        You've heard of a tiger economy, yes? The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

      3. Jukesgrrl

        When the Irish economy expanded at an average rate of 9.4% between 1995 and 2000 and continued to grow until 2008, the called themselves the Celtic Tiger. Now that they're eating rotten potatoes again, "tiger" is a dirty word over there.

  6. SmutBoffin


    1. DustBowlBlues

      Congrats! You are totally off the list of registered voters whose names have been stricken from the you-can't-vote voters purge.

      For a second there, we were afraid you were a Democrat.

  7. Billmatic

    These people who expect to work until they are 80 are hilarious. I mean first, nobody knows if you'll live that long no matter how good you think you take care of yourself and second, who the fuck is gonna hire you? Wal-Mart? There's only so many positions for greeters.

      1. actor212

        Wal-Mart could double employment if in addition to greeters, they hired "bye-ers": people who said goodbye and come again on your way out the door.

        Why does Wal-Mart hate America?

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Republican economic planning relies entirely on your not making it to 80. If you're still hanging around at that point (and you're not a millionaire), it's because you hate America.

      1. bikerlaureate

        Patriots would be in charge of their own death panels.

        Besides, the average Amercian is nowhere near 80.

    2. Jukesgrrl

      At the Walmart closest to my house, the greeters have been gone for months. They don't have as many stock people either, so many of the shelves have huge empty spaces. But yet our "job creators" still have the fantasy that "anyone" can get a job at Walmart.

      1. shelwood46

        Back about 10-15 years ago, when Walmart first expanded into New Jersey, there were… difficulties. Seems the stores here had to get waiver from corporate to allow the greeters *not* to greet the people coming into the stores because we charming Jersey folk tended to become sullen and surly in response. Greeters were quitting; greeters were crying. So they made it optional for them to greet. They pretty much just handed you a cart, sort of. This later morphed into greeters pretty much chatting on their cell phones while blocking one's access to the carts. So, I kind of get why the greeters are not needed, in NJ at least.

        1. Jukesgrrl

          They needed to hire greeters who would yell, “What are YOU lookin' at?” People would have been more comfortable there.Corporate FAIL.

  8. sezme

    It's the poors' fault for always making themselves poorer. Poor, noble Mittens Romney did everything within his programming to save the munnies, but no, the poors just love having less and less of it.

  9. JackDempsey1

    I could volunteer to be in charge, temporarily, if you'all don't mind that I'd be doing it with a mild buzz.

  10. Blueb4sunrise

    If that is a 'Chip and Dale' reference from Kris………I'll……
    I'll…………..I'll eat this nectarine!!!!!

    Edited to reflect the fact that the nectarine is eaten in any case.

  11. SayItWithWookies

    "We're not gonna help the economy get out of the shitter, but I guarantee we'll blame the fuck out of anybody in the room if it gets worse."

  12. coolhandnuke

    …Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke told a Senate panel Tuesday there’s little he can do to offset the likely economic damage if Congress steers the U.S. economy over a fiscal cliff. Nor, he told lawmakers, is that his job…

    Toonces the Cat is Boehner's chauffeur.

  13. anniegetyerfun

    See, black people will do anything to get out of having a real job in the private sector, including dying fourteen years earlier than the rest of the population. This just proves that Obama cannot be trusted to finish out a second term.

  14. edgydrifter

    It is astounding how well-fed men who close their french cuffs with golden studs aren't more motivated to solve the problems of an economy that they themselves are completely insulated against and unaffected by. No, wait, it's actually the opposite of astounding.

  15. Estproph

    Can't they just give Goldman Sachs more money again? That will surely work this time.

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      He'll still need to borrow another few trillion, pocket a third of it, fire all the citizens, and renege on their SS retirement income, if he's going to fully utilize the "business acumen" that made him such a rich fuck in the first place.

      We'd all be busted flat, of course, but hey … talent like that doesn't come cheap.

  16. savethispatient

    I would urge you to take whatever actions you think would be most helpful in supporting a stronger economic recovery

    I, for one, welcome our new Dictator-for-Life, General Ben Bernanke.

  17. BigSkullF*ckingDog

    Mittens would definitly not be responsible if he is elected as he retroactively retired from being the president in 2009.

  18. Callyson

    "I’ve been assigned to focus on maximum employment and price stability, not to hold threats over Congress’ head. Congress is in charge here, not the Federal Reserve.”

    And if Bernanke actually *did* focus on these things, that *would* be a threat to this do – nothing (except destroy Obama, of course) Congress…

    What was your point again, Ben?

  19. Biel_ze_Bubba

    Have the rich, finally, got so much of everything that there isn't enough left to go around? Because I think that's called feudalism, and it doesn't end well.

      1. SorosBot

        We've got more people than they need for their serfs, so what better use for the surplus population than to send them off to die to expand our borders?

    1. Goonemeritus

      Don’t be so negative it’s great if you are a mason specializing in the construction of walls.

  20. MissTaken

    For realz, Ben and The Fed are rather stuck here. Interest rates are already down near zero, so they can go no lower, and The Fed did two rounds of quantitative easing already, which is their version of a Hail Mary pass (they bought up crap from banks to give the banks room to lend – the easing – but the banks still didn't lend). Sure, they could do QE3, again, but if banks continue to not lend and if businesses continue to not hire, Teh Fed is stuck.

    Congress needs to get off their fat asses, quit bitching about the scary Muslims and women getting constitutionally protected abortions, and do some real fucking stimulus spending (there's a shit ton of infrastructure work that needs to be done, and that is an investment in the future of this country) and stop fucking around with raising student loan rates while whining about rich people being job creators.


    1. actor212

      Say, you know what the Fed *could* do?

      It could trigger inflation by printing more moneys and monetizing some of the debt. That would actually help.

      1. MissTaken

        That's what QE1 and QE2 did, but the banks didn't put the money given to them into the economy. Instead they buy up shares of their own companies and pay dividends to their shareholders to prop up their stock prices. Printing money only works if there's a bank willing to hand the money out to the people.

        1. actor212

          QE was a shell game where the Fed took advantage of the spread between long term yields and short term yields and basically recapitalized.

          I'm talking about firing up the printing presses and increasing the supply of dollar bills in the economy.

          1. sullivanst

            QE was a shell game where the Fed took advantage of the spread between long term yields and short term yields and basically recapitalized.

            … the net effect of which was functionally the same as if they had simply printed more cash and circulated it with an open market purchase.

            Also, that only describes QE2. The first round of QE was cash purchases of MBS, and given that cash on the Fed's balance sheet isn't in circulation, whereas cash used to purchase MBS from banks is, the fiscal effect of QE1 was indistinguishable from printing money and circulating it.

          2. DustBowlBlues

            And put those dollar bills into the country's crumbling bridges and mass transit projects (just not for OK–Guv Mattress Mary would turn it down) and watch the economy grow. Then pay back money for less than we borrowed it.

            Which is what will probably happen if Mittens win and the asshole Republics in congress decide they want to be loved.

        2. GunToting[Redacted]

          I stand ready to take on this task. Look for sudden and dramatic increases of spending on Scotch, domestic craft beer, and prescription tranquilizers.

    2. prommie

      Well is it also worth noting that there is no "normal" to return to, we haven't had a 'normal" economy since Reagan, almost, we have had a series of speculative booms (tech, real estate) and consumer spending fueled not by rising incomes but by leveraging (second mortgages) artificially appreciating assets.

      These booms masked the real cost of exporting the jerbs and closing the factories where actual things of actual value were actually created by workers earning l living wage.

      Where we are at now is just actually probably normal, for an economy based on finance and finance alone, and I-phones and video games. This isn't a recession or a downturn, this is what they have done to us, without some boomlet or other passing phenomenon to mask it.

      1. DustBowlBlues

        Oh, Prommie, you rascal, you. Simply using jerbs instead of jobs isn't going to make you sound less smart. Or drunk, either, come to think of it.

        Brilliant post. Please send it to Ben B.

    3. bikerlaureate

      and do some real fucking stimulus spending (there's a shit ton of infrastructure work that needs to be done, and that is an investment in the future of this country)

      If you run for office I will try really hard to move back to Northern CA to vote for you.

  21. JustPixelz

    A little OT, but John Sununu said businesses are scared to death that Obama will get re-elected in which case they will move their trillions off-shore in huge cargo planes. But if Romney wins, they'll open the bank doors and shout "free money everyone". (I paraphrase slightly).

    But I notice that as Obama's In-trade odds go up, so does the Dow. The opposite of Sununu's prediction. Look at the graphs. There's a technical term for Sununu's argument: bullshit.

    1. Jukesgrrl

      But … but … but … he's a GENIUS. Didn't you hear? He tells everyone he meets he's in the Mega Society, the most elite ultra-high IQ organization, requiring percentiles of 99.9999, or 1 in a million, for admission. So how could he be wrong??

  22. prommie

    Ron Paul has the solution! The gold standard! All we need to do is return to the financial stone age and all will be well!

      1. emmelemm

        TRUE FACT: I know someone who grew up on the island of Yap. Her family was the only white family on the island.

    1. FakaktaSouth

      Oh dear Ron Paul. He would be so fucking great and funny and drug-loveable if his whacked out supporters weren't all complete lunatic gun fetishists. (word of the week)

  23. hagajim

    Please don't fucking put Congress in charge – they'll just continue to do fucking nothing until we slide right back down the rabbit hole.

  24. actor212

    This is weird: according to Wonket's Twitter feed, the website is like two posts behind.

    What is this magic? It scares me! Kill it! Kill it with FIRE!

    Or FRIES. Makes no diff to me.

    1. DustBowlBlues

      Tell me isn't so. The real wonket has been circumtwitted? And now I'm just reading the twitter's leftovers? I feel betrayed and twitticuled.

  25. johnnymeatworth

    "Congress being in charge of anything, let alone the economy?"

    To quote birthday boy Hunter Thompson, it's like a bunch of junkies trying to build a rocket to the moon in order to check out a rumor that the craters are full of smack.

  26. DustBowlBlues

    Why doesn't this asshole read his own doctoral dissertation, for Christ's sake? What is he? A pussy? I liked him so much more in the movie. Can't Paul Giamatti replace him in real life? Take some of that John Adams spine-of-steel into the job and tell his Republic friends to eat shit and die and fix this fucking economy?

    I can't exactly remember how, but a little inflation, according to some liberal economists that sounded smart–I think one of them was named Krugman–would be a good thing and mean we would owe less money than we borrowed.

    FIX IT, BEN!

  27. DustBowlBlues

    I got another "comment must be approved" and this time I didn't use any references to death, the developmentally disabled or violence. Who knew that "John Adams' spine of steel" would get me in the dog house.

  28. ttommyunger

    If you didn't know better, you wouldn't believe Jamie Dimon's hand was up Ben's ass moving his lips….way cool.

  29. deanbooth

    fourteen years longer than the average lifespan of African American men

    Be careful with that fact, it's loaded (especially regarding retirement years).

  30. JohnHoffman

    Sell your house short, pay off the kids' school loans, declare bankruptcy. Eezy-peezy.

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