Bernanke: No Way to Run a Railroad

Oct 04 2011

Today I had the opportunity to attend a hearing by the Joint Economic Committee with number two on my list of heros: Ben Bernanke.  It’s rumored that Mr. Bernanke wears red socks, a rumor that inspired my own collection of colorful socks.  And no, it is not a rumor that I dressed as him for Halloween a couple years back.  In any case, it was exciting to see and hear him in person.

While Mr. Bernanke answered most questions with surprising frankness, he dodged other questions that only served to put an exclamation at the end of his overall point: this is “no way to run a railroad”.

Mr. Bernanke confirmed our greatest fears: the current condition of the US economy (and the Euro crisis for that matter) is a political problem, not an economic one.  He reiterated that US debt was downgraded because of political brinkmanship, not from concerns about the US long-term growth.  One Member asked, what can Congress do? Mr. Bernanke’s reply: short-term fiscal stimulus, medium-term deficit reduction, and clarity about policies; the continuous threat of government shutdown… it’s no way to run a railroad.

Is Congress truly that dysfunctional?  If so, how has it come to this and what can be done about it?  What is clear, according to Mr. Bernanke, is that if Congress does not get its house in order, it will be the economy that suffers.

 

 

 

 

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