Sen. Al Franken has caught the populist anti-bank fervor going around, voting against the confirmation of Ben Bernanke to a second term chairing the U.S. Federal Reserve Board on Thursday.
 
“Working Minnesotans deserve to have the same or better protections from the Federal Reserve than Wall Street and the big banks,” Franken said in a statement released after the Senate vote, which went 70-30 for Bernanke. “I opposed the bailout because I didn’t believe it afforded enough taxpayer protections, and that’s why I oppose this nomination today.”

Fellow Democrat Amy Klobuchar, who was in the Senate in 2008 and supported the $700 billion bailout, voted to confirm Bernanke.
 
Franken’s no vote was his first breaking with the Obama administration on anything significant since he joined the Senate last July. That could be a point in his favor the next time he has to fend off accusations of partisanship or marching in lockstep with party leaders.
 
Altogether, 12 Democrats voted against Bernanke, including Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats.
 
Explaining his vote, Franken said that as governor of the Federal Reserve and then Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke did almost nothing to protect consumers. And when he did, it was too late, according to Franken.
 
“I needed the assurance that would improve. And I didn’t get that,” he said.

In a sense, the hugely unpopular bank bailout has been the point in American politics where right meets left. Other Minnesotans voting in opposition when it came up in September, 2008, were Democrats Tim Walz and Collin Peterson, along with Republican Michele Bachmann.

 

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