After years of being blocked by Democratic leader Harry Reid, The Washington Times reports, the Senate will finally get a chance next year to vote on legislation to force a broad audit of the Federal Reserve's decision-making. Ron Paul's flagship legislative efforts have been picked up by his son and now has the backing of the leader of the new Republican majority, Sen. Mitch McConnell, whose office says the legislation will earn a floor vote. While the bill is not a sure thing, it appears to have The Fed worried as Reuters reports, Yellen and other Fed officials are lobbying Capitol Hill to drop the audit push.
After years of being blocked by Democratic leader Harry Reid, the Senate will finally get a chance next year to vote on legislation to force a broad audit of the Federal Reserve's decision-making.
Once championed in Congress by former Rep. Ron Paul, the push to force the country's central bank to undergo a full audit has been picked up by his son, Sen. Rand Paul, and others, and has the backing of the leader of the new Republican majority, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, whose office says the legislation will earn a floor vote.
But despite overwhelming support in the House, where the legislation has twice passed, the bill is not a sure thing in the Senate, and the Fed itself is pushing back. Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen said earlier this month the Fed remains opposed to stricter oversight of its monetary policy decisions, and Reuters reported she and other Fed officials are lobbying Capitol Hill to drop the audit push.
"Back in 1978 Congress explicitly passed legislation to ensure that there would be no GAO audits of monetary policy decision-making, namely policy audits. I certainly hope that will continue, and I will try to forcefully make the case for why that's important," Ms. Yellen told reporters at a press conference two weeks ago.
For supporters in Congress, the fight is a matter of constitutional prerogatives and good governance. They argue that President Obama's 2009 Recovery Act, which totaled $800 billion in spending and tax cuts, was dwarfed by the trillions of dollars of stimulus the Federal Reserve oversaw.
And everything changed in the last election...
"[Harry Reid's] refusal to bring popular legislation like 'Audit the Fed' to the floor is a major reason why he's being demoted to minority leader," said Mr. Singleton, who spent years as Mr. Paul's legislative director in the House. "The change in Senate leadership does present us with the best opportunity yet to get a stand-alone vote on 'Audit the Fed.'"
Still, he said they aren't taking anything for granted, particularly after the report that Fed officials are quietly lobbying against more oversight.
"This is popular with 75 percent of the American people, but it's not popular among Wall Street; it's not popular among banks; it's not popular among foreign central banks," Mr. Singleton said. "These hold a fair amount of sway among both parties, so just to say that a change in party necessarily means we'll be able to move Audit the Fed it's better odds now than we've had before, but it's not a slam dunk."
The audit legislation would grant the Government Accountability Office, which is Congress's chief investigative arm, the power to retroactively review - though not actually reverse - the Fed's decision-making, particularly on monetary policy.
But the elites are worried...
Ms. Yellen and her defenders say giving the GAO audit powers could amount to having their decisions scrutinized almost in real time, which they say could influence the closed-door deliberations by the Fed.
"If board members know that their statements may become public, they may be inhibited from speaking candidly about the economic trends they are observing or the monetary policies they believe would best respond to current conditions," Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said in leading the fight against the bill in September.
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Accountability? Consequences? Not in the New Normal... it's for your own good after all...