Tag Archives: Bernie Sanders

The Impudent Tyranny Of Sen. Harry Reid

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High-Stakes Duel Between Rep. Paul & Bernanke Intensifies

Rep. Ron Paul and Ben Bernanke are locked in a clash of titans.

Paul, the 74-year-old House libertarian from Texas with the high-pitched voice, has fought for decades to kill off the Federal Reserve.

Bernanke, the ex-Princeton professor and chairman of the bank, is waging a high-stakes battle for the Fed. And he’s doing everything possible to knock out Paul.

The fight is still in the early rounds. But with the full House expected to vote this week to give government auditors more power to scrutinize the Fed, Paul has the upper hand.

The Senate is a much more difficult round for Paul, though a similar stew of liberal and conservative support is starting to simmer in the upper chamber behind the Republican’s wonky auditing measure.

The battle has taken place in public — on blogs, with grassroots activists and during congressional hearings.

Bernanke has testified against the provision, given lengthy media interviews, written op-eds and attempted to lift the cloud of secrecy that hangs over the bank.

Paul, a longstanding supporter of a new gold standard, made his case formally in his recently published book, End the Fed.

The 2008 presidential candidate’s crusade is no longer a quixotic quest. He is a prime beneficiary of the grassroots anger this year against government bailouts for Wall Street.

First introduced in February, Paul’s bill to audit the Fed has gained 317 co-sponsors, a shocking three-quarters of the House. The bill has not won over many Democrats in leadership, but it has picked up several committee chairmen, including Reps. Bart Gordon (Tenn.), Jim Oberstar (Minn.) and John Spratt (S.C.).

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), a prominent Paul ally on the bill, has provided a huge boost to the effort with his firebrand strain of liberal politics.

Grayson has publicly slammed the Fed, going so far as calling its top lobbyist a “K Street whore.”

Paul himself said the full force of “lobbyists for the Fed” is stacked against him.

As the popularity of the Paul-Grayson measure rose this year, Bernanke’s fell.

A Rasmussen poll in November showed that just 21 percent of those surveyed thought Bernanke should be reappointed. Meanwhile, 79 percent of those polled said auditing the Fed is a good idea.

In the Senate, Paul has found support from Sens. Jim DeMint, the conservative Republican from South Carolina, and Bernie Sanders, the Independent from Vermont who calls himself a proud socialist.

A left-right coalition of interest groups on the outside is joining forces against Bernanke.

White House Communist Resigns

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Congress Pushing for Federal Reserve Audit

A majority of the U.S. House of Representatives is now in support of a historic bill by Republican lawmaker Ron Paul to audit the Federal Reserve (the Fed), the privately run central bank that sets monetary policy for the United States.

A similar bill in the U.S. Senate was proposed by Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, and has three Republican co-sponsors.

Meanwhile, a House committee recently approved an amendment offered by leftist Democrat Dennis Kucinich to a bill granting more oversight to the Government Accountability Office, which would audit the Fed’s response to the economic crisis specifically.

Notably, the amendment passed committee unanimously, with broad bipartisan support, and now heads to the full House for action.

“The Fed has taken a number of extraordinary and unprecedented steps to address the financial crisis,” Kucinich said in an email. “In so doing, it has committed over one trillion dollars to the purchase and financing of many different kinds of assets. It has selectively intervened in certain economic sectors, while it has ignored others.”

“All of these interventions mark a departure from traditional monetary policy, raise significant public policy questions, and impact taxpayers considerably,” Kucinich said.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is “not revealing what they did with the two trillion dollars they created on their books. It was loans to banks for sure. There have been several actions under the Freedom of Information Act to get them to say who they were to and what the terms were, but they won’t do it,” Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’, said.

Most people in the United States do not understand what the Federal Reserve is or what it does, except some know the Fed sets a federal interest rate, which in turn affects interest rates on some variable private loans.

However, the Fed’s impact is much greater than this. Essentially, the Fed, which is made up of private bank representatives, can determine how much money is in the nation’s money supply.

“The money supply helps determine the general level of interest rates paid for the use of money, employment, prices, and economic growth. Many economists believe the money supply is the most important determinant of these variables,” according to a 1964 Congressional report, “Money Facts,” by the Committee on Banking and Currency.

One way the Fed impacts the money supply is by taking actions that open or restrict credit.

The vast majority of money in the U.S. economy was created through the issuance of loans by private banks. “Created” might seem like a strong word, but in fact, banks typically create money as a bookkeeping entry that did not exist before. Because of what is called “fractional reserve lending”, banks can create up to 10 times more money than they have on deposit with the central bank.

“How does the Federal Reserve change the money supply?” the Congressional report notes. “By regulations which tell the member banks the maximum amount of bank deposits they may create per dollar of reserves.”

It may seem obscure, but author Ellen Brown argues that “reserve ratio” decisions by the Fed may have preceded several economic crises in U.S. history, including the Great Depression in the 1930s.

“When the Federal Reserve raised the reserve requirements [from 10 percent] to 20 percent right before the Depression, that’s what brought on the Depression,” she argued.

“Let’s say you have a reserve requirement of 10 percent, and for every 10 dollars of reserves, you’ve got 100 dollars on loans. If they suddenly change the reserve requirement, they have to call in 50 dollars of loans. That caused the Depression. They have the power to shrink the money supply,” Brown explained.

Meanwhile, in the last year, the Fed has taken on incredible new powers, including managing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP); purchasing parts of new federal debt; and issuing funds to unknown parties.

“There is a large number of members of Congress and Americans in general who believe that such an extraordinary and unprecedented commitment of taxpayer money demands Congressional oversight. That is why my amendment was adopted unanimously in committee when I introduced it in the committee of jurisdiction of the GAO,” Kucinich said.

“Reforms may be necessary, but first it is critical to shine a light in the shadows. The Fed’s actions have ballooned their balance sheet from 874 billion dollars to more than two trillion dollars. This is more than double the cost of TARP and we still do not really know where the money went. That’s unacceptable,” Kucinich said.

“The Constitution provides ‘the Congress shall have power to coin money, regulate the value thereof,‘” the Congressional report notes. “The Supreme Court interpreted this clause, again and again over a period of 150 years, to mean that ‘whatever power there is over the currency is vested in the Congress.'”

Congress delegated its authority to create and regulate money to the Federal Reserve, an independent agency it created in 1913. The “independence” of the Fed creates two problems, according to the report.

“Since the Federal Reserve is independent it is not accountable to anyone for the economic policies it chooses to pursue. But this runs counter to normally accepted democratic principles,” it says.

“The President and Congress are responsible to the people on election day for their past economic decisions. But the Federal Reserve is responsible, neither to the people directly nor indirectly through the people’s elected representatives. Yet the Federal Reserve exercises great power in controlling the money-creating activities of the commercial banks,” the report notes.

“With an ‘independent’ Federal Reserve, Congress and the President can be moving in one direction while the Federal Reserve is moving in the other,” it says.

Prior to 1913, the U.S. went through several different phases of monetary policy, including President Abraham Lincoln’s decision to print whatever funds he needed to fight the War of Northern Aggression, rather than relying on private banks.

It is remarkable that the Fed has purchased part of the federal debt in the last year, Brown says, although the public is mostly unaware of this development.