The Diamond Travesty, Continued

by Jonathan Cohn | June 6, 2011

Nearly a day has passed since Peter Diamond announced he's withdrawing his nomination to the Federal Reserve Board in the face of intractable Republican opposition. I remain convinced that it's a travesty and I don't seem to be the only one. Via e-mail, here's Henry Aaron, the Brookings economist and quite possibly one of the most fair-minded people I know:

I find it profoundly sad—for the nation and for the cause of reasoned debate on public policy—that a blocking minority of Senators has refused to permit Peter Diamond’s nomination to the Federal Reserve to come to a floor vote. The reason, some say, is political payback for the past refusal of the Senate to approve the nominee of a Republican president to the Federal Reserve. Whether that is true or this episode is simply an instance of shockingly poor judgment by a minority of Senators, the nation now loses the services of a person of remarkable erudition, judgment, and kindliness—and one with rich experience directly relevant to the very challenges that the Federal Reserve and the nation now face.

The institutional decay of the Senate here is really striking. Slate's Dave Weigel looks at some of the other high-profile Obama nominees that the Senate has effectively blocked--among them Goodwin Liu and Elizabeth Warren--and wonders whether the entire process has finally broken down entirely:

Goodwin Liu, Elizabeth Warren, Peter Diamond -- all of them unconfirmable in a Senate run by Democrats, all because Republicans have the power, and use the power, to hold up anyone they damn well please. It's one thing to hold up judges like Liu; they're lifetime appointees, and they're dangerous in the long run. But we're at the point now where academics in their 60s ... can't be appointed. Boards like IPAB and the CFPB? Republicans don't like that they exist; they probably can't be staffed, ever.
In two years, we'll either have a Democratic president with a more Republican Senate, or a Republican president with less than a Republican supermajority in the Senate. Does anyone think "controversial" nominees will be confirmed in either scenario? No, me neither.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-cohn/89522/the-diamond-travesty-continued