Despite lobbying, Obama will make Fed pick himself

David Jackson, USA TODAY

USA TODAY - President Obama is getting a lot of advice on who the next Federal Reserve chair should be, but aides are making it clear that he will make the final decision himself.

"What the president's focused on is carefully considering this very important decision," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Earnest spoke amid reports that White House officials have expressed annoyance at some of the intense lobbying going on for the post, including a letter from Senate Democrats urging the appointment of Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen.

Obama is said to be considering Yellen, as well as former economic adviser (and Bill Clinton-era Treasury secretary) Larry Summers.

According to a new Reuters poll of economists, "Janet Yellen is still seen as the most likely successor to U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke ... despite a swell of speculation in recent weeks that Lawrence Summers might have the inside track."

The appointee -- who requires Senate confirmation -- would replace Ben Bernanke, who is expected to retire when his term ends in January.

During a recent meeting with House Democrats, Obama mentioned the possibility of a third candidate, former Fed member Donald Kohn.

At his news conference last week, Obama said he is looking for a Fed chair who can keep inflation in check and promote the economic conditions for full employment.

"I'll make the decision in the fall," Obama said.

Earnest said it's no surprise so many people are interested in the Fed appointment, given the importance of the job.

Obama has emphasized that this will be "one of the more important decisions that he'd be making, particularly when it comes to economic policy, in his second term as president," Earnest said.

He added: "I am confident that whomever the president nominates won't just have strong Democratic support but will also deserve strong bipartisan support."


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