No doubt, President Obama had a more enjoyable day at his jobs summit than Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke did at his renomination roasting.
Watching a webcast of the president taking questions from the businesspeople and others in attendance, I saw a leader who’s quick on his feet and able to stick to the themes of his economic recovery plan.
Elsewhere in Washington, the more important meeting featured the Fed chairman getting grilled by members of the Senate Banking Committee. Call it a draw. The senators bruised him, but Bernanke didn’t crack.
Fed watchers remain convinced that Bernanke will win a second term, but over what kind of central bank will he be presiding? Will it get more power, but lose independence from political pressure? Will Congress wind up damaging the Fed’s credibility in the eyes of global investors in the name of reform?
The Fed, like other regulators, made its share of mistakes before the financial crisis. But Bernanke’s Fed unleashed an imaginative set of tools to try to keep the entire system from collapse.
With a U.S. economy that’s backed away from the ledge, Bernanke should be allowed to unwind the extraordinary measures that continue to keep this economy beating, rather than bleeding.
No one will remember anything about Obama’s Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth a year from now.
Critics derided it as public relations. Advocates for the unemployed protested over being snubbed. Some posters who watched proceedings on Facebook seemed content just to hear important issues being discussed.
Of the 130 people invited to attend, there were some with local ties:
* David R. Brennan, chief executive officer of AstraZeneca P.L.C., the London-based drug company that employs more than 5,000 in Northern Delaware. Before becoming CEO in 2006, he had worked in AstraZeneca’s Wilmington area offices.
* Gregory S. Bentley, chief executive officer of Bentley Systems Inc., a privately held Exton software developer.
* And David Lincoln, managing partner of Element Partners, a Radnor private-equity firm that invests in clean-tech companies.