Steve Benen: Last year, the Senate Banking Committee twice approved Peter Diamond’s nomination to the Federal Reserve. And twice, the Senate wasn’t allowed to vote on Diamond because Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and a handful of his far-right colleagues threw tantrums for unknown reasons. So, this year, President Obama resubmitted the Diamond nomination. And once again, the petulant Republican from Alabama led a small contingent that decided they’re entitled to veto power over the process.
After more than a year of waiting for a simple vote, Diamond has given up. In a New York Times op-ed, the respected Nobel laureate explained why he’s withdrawing:
Instead of going to the Fed, however, I will go about my congenial professional existence as a professor at M.I.T., where I have taught and researched since 1966, and I will take advantage of some of the many opportunities that come to a Nobel laureate. So don’t worry about me … But we should all worry about how distorted the confirmation process has become, and how little understanding of monetary policy there is among some of those responsible for its Congressional oversight.
… Diamond is among the most accomplished economists of his generation, and last year, was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics. And yet, there was Richard Shelby & Co., insisting that Diamond lacked the qualifications to join the board of governors of the Federal Reserve ……The result of this fiasco isn’t just the loss of a qualified nominee to an important post; it’s also a lost opportunity to have the Fed take actions to bolster the economy. We can only hope that this wasn’t part of a larger campaign by Republicans to hurt the economy on purpose.