Now that he’s tackled the Supreme Court openings, President Bush is preparing for another high-profile nomination: a successor to Alan Greenspan, whose 18-year run at the Federal Reserve comes to an end in just over three months.
Often referred to as the second-most powerful person in the United States, Greenspan’s last day is expected to be Jan. 31.
Speaking at a wide-ranging news conference on Tuesday, Bush touched briefly on the White House’s efforts to select a new Fed chairman. He called the process to find Greenspan’s replacement “ongoing.”
“There is a group of people inside the White House ... who will bring forth nominees,” Bush said.
What is the president looking for in a new Fed chairman?
“The nominees will be people that, one, obviously can do the job and, secondly, will be independent,” Bush said. “It’s important that whomever I pick is viewed as an independent person from politics. It’s this independence of the Fed that gives people, not only here in America but the world, confidence.”
Private economists agree that it is critically important that a Fed chairman make decisions involving interest-rate policy based on economic considerations, not political ones.
The next chairman will steer the world’s largest economy, with the goals of encouraging economic growth and job creation, while keeping inflation under control.
Although a number of names have been bandied about as possible successors to Greenspan, the president said he himself hasn’t seen a list.
“Right now, I, frankly, hadn’t seen any — personally hadn’t seen any names yet because part of the process is to surface some names internally but also part of the process is to reach outside the White House and solicit opinions,” Bush said.
Bush didn’t offer any firm clues as to when he might nominate Greenspan’s replacement, saying only: “I’ll name the person at an appropriate time.”
The president’s comments about the Fed job come after he had dealt with two vacancies at the nation’s highest court.
Bush saw John Roberts installed as the 17th chief justice of the United States, succeeding William H. Rehnquist. On Monday, the president tapped White House counsel Harriet Miers to a slot on the Supreme Court.
Drawing frequent mentions for Greenspan’s job are:
- Ben Bernanke: A former Fed board member, he recently became Bush’s top economist.
- Martin Feldstein. An economics professor at Harvard University and president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, he advised Bush when the Texas governor ran for president in 2000.
- R. Glenn Hubbard. Dean of Columbia University’s graduate school of business and an economics professor, he was Bush’s chief economic adviser from 2001 to 2003.
Also discussed for a post-Greenspan era are Donald Kohn, a member of the Fed board; Roger Ferguson, vice chairman of the Fed board; John Taylor, an economics professor at Stanford University; and Larry Lindsey, former economic adviser to Bush and ex-member of the Fed.