WASHINGTON — Sen. Dean Heller voted Thursday against President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Federal Reserve, saying nominee Janet Yellen would only continue what he believes are questionable policies in managing the economy.
The Nevada Republican was one of eight senators voting against Yellen as her nomination was considered in the Senate Banking Committee. She did pass the committee on a 14-8 vote, with the next step being a confirmation vote by the full Senate.
“If you were happy with the way the economy has been run the last five years, you are probably happy with the Yellen nomination,” Heller said after vote. “I thought at the end of the day this will only just be Bernanke 2.0”
Heller’s reference was to outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, an architect of the government’s response to the financial crisis of the late 2000s that critics have dubbed the Wall Street “bailout.”
Bernanke’s subsequent support for injecting additional billions of dollars into the banking system to stimulate the economy through a policy known as “quantitative easing” also proved controversial. While backers said it has steadied the economy, critics say the approach increases the risk of inflation and has caused uncertaintly over how the economy will respond whenever the Fed tapers back on the practice.
With Yellen, “we are going ot get more quantitative easing,” Heller said. “We are going to get more stimulus. I don’t think anything will change and I think this country should head in a different direction.”
Heller had met one-on-one with Yellen, 67, an economist who is the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. She taught at Harvard University and the London School of Economics, and is professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. She once headed the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton.
“My colleagues on both sides of the aisle agree with me that Dr. Yellen’s credentials are impressive,” Heller said. “In the end, I do not share or support her beliefs in the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented monetary stimulus policies such as quantitative easing, which pose enormous risks to our economy.”
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.