President Obama nominated Janet Yellen on Wednesday as the next chairwoman of the Federal Reserve. At the same time, he’s been taking a much more hardline stance on dealing with House Republicans than he has in the past.
Traditional media coverage of the government shutdown and debt ceiling impasse has focused mostly on the influence of the Tea Party within the Republican Party.
But this focus has obscured the fact that Obama has been increasingly responsive to the assertive liberal base of the Democratic Party.
For months, liberals had been raising alarms about the prospect of former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers being appointed as Fed chair and pushing Yellen as an alternative.
An analysis of the Yellen news in the liberal magazine, The Nation, said:
The Nation played a role in this campaign, joining groups such as the National Organization for Women and Daily Kos, as well as a number of Democratic senators. We began with a petition demanding that the president reject Summers, then followed it up with one calling on him to “Break Up with Old Boys’ Club” and appoint Yellen. All together, we garnered over 10,000 signatures, many from readers who expressed disappointment that a president they fought to get elected would appoint someone so closely aligned with the policies that crashed our economy.
Just as liberals pushed for Yellen over Summers, for years they have been arguing for Obama to take a harder line against House Republicans.
Many liberals regard it as the biggest mistake of Obama’s presidency that he negotiated over raising the debt limit in 2011 and have been pushing for him to stand firm in confrontations with Republicans.
Obama clearly decided to take the advice of the left. He took a hands-off approach in the run up to the government shutdown and has been insisting that he won’t negotiate with Republicans on the debt limit.
After Obama’s second inaugural address, most commentators thought it signaled that he was going to govern more from the Left and be more combative than he was during his first term in office.
With the combination of a Yellen appointment and his government shutdown/debt limit strategy, this is coming to fruition.