Originally published July 27 2012
Ron Paul's 'Audit-the-Fed' bill passes the House
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Ron Paul doesn't have many legislative victories, but when he does, it's a monumental event.
Paul, the Libertarian-leaning Republican lawmaker from Texas with a penchant for upsetting the GOP establishment and a loathing for the status quo, just happens to also be the Federal Reserve's biggest critic.
For years Paul - who has still yet to officially withdraw from his quest for the GOP presidential nomination that is now Mitt Romney's in everything but name - has pushed for more transparency at the Fed. From within the organization and from Congress itself, he's been stymied at every turn.
That all changed earlier this week when - finally - he found satisfaction.
Time for Congress to 'reassert ourselves'
The House on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly - 327-98 - in favor of legislation he offered that would require a full audit of all the central bank's practices. The bill, called the Federal Reserve Transparency Act (H.R. 459) "essentially removes the prohibitions against a full audit," Paul said.
Current rules allow the non-partisan Government Accountability Office to audit most aspects of the Fed's activities. But an examination of the central bank's monetary policy decisions is off limits.
Paul's bill will close that regulatory gap.
"It is up to us to reassert ourselves," Paul said during floor debate earlier this week, referring to lawmakers in general.
"To audit, we should know what kind of transactions there are," he said. "We should know about the deals that they made when they were fixing the price of Libor. These are the kinds of things that have gone on for years that we have no access to."
Libor refers to the London Interbank Offered Rate. Earlier this month the New York Federal Reserve bank said it knew that London banks were under-reporting borrowing costs, which in turn altered the Libor - a tactic the NY Fed believes was done to boost profits.
Some still want secrecy
Opponents of the measure, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, testified earlier that giving the government full audit capabilities over the central bank would amount to a "nightmare scenario," because he believes it will lead to political interference.
"It seems to me what we're talking about is taking some fake punches at the Federal Reserve but not doing anything serious," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, added.
"They will see it as political interference, not with the contracting procedures, not with the budget, not with how many cars they have, but with how they decide on interest rates," Frank said. "And the perception that the Congress is going to politicize the way in which interest rates are set will in itself have a destabilizing effect."
Paul says if its politicization of the Fed that some are worried about, that's already been occurring. He said the Fed, through political and corporate cronyism, has picked industries to support - and to ignore. Some financial institutions have been bailed out by the Fed, which essentially created the bailout money out of thin air, while others have not.
"It's very political when you have a Federal Reserve that can bail out one company and not another company," Paul said. "That's pretty political."
The House passed it - But now what?
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa agreed, noting that Congress - purposefully or by accident - has, through the years, relinquished its oversight role.
"In recent years, the Fed's extraordinary interventions into the economy's fiscal markets have led some to call into question its independence," said Issa, R-Calif. "We do not ask for an audit for that reason, we ask for an audit because the American people ultimately must be able to hold the Fed accountable, and to do so, they must know at least in retrospect what the Fed has done over these many year."
The bill has moved to the Senate where its majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, once favored an audit of the Fed.
Now; however, since it is no longer his idea, he seems to have changed his mind.
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