Saturday, June 13, 2009

Clean Sweep!

All 5 of Iowa's U.S. Representatives Co-Sponsor Ron Paul's "Audit the Fed" Bill.

On June 11, U.S. Representative Bruce Braley became the final member of Iowa's U.S. House delegation to co-sponsor HR 1207, the “Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009.″ Iowa's three Democrat and two Republican representatives have all now co-sponsored this important legislation.

The bill merely calls for the Comptroller General (America's chief financial inspector and head of the Government Accountability Office [GAO]) to conduct an audit of the Federal Reserve System by the end of 2010 and report the findings to Congress.

The Federal Reserve (or "Fed") is America's central banking system. It is a a quasi-public and quasi-private organization (an unholy union of government and private interests). It was signed in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson, who supposedly later lamented, "I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. [...] The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. [...] No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."

According to its website, the Federal Reserve's duties fall into four general areas:
  1. Conducting the nation's monetary policy by influencing the monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.
  2. Supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation's banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers.
  3. Maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets.
  4. Providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation's payments system.

You would think that an institution with so much responsibility to and power in the U.S. economy would be run openly and transparently. Not so. To understand why the audit of the Fed is necessary, here are the words of the bill's author Congressman Ron Paul, when he arose to introduce the bill to Congress:

"I rise to introduce the Federal Reserve Transparency Act. Throughout its nearly 100-year history, the Federal Reserve has presided over the near-complete destruction of the United States dollar. Since 1913 the dollar has lost over 95% of its purchasing power, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy. How long will we as a Congress stand idly by while hard-working Americans see their savings eaten away by inflation? Only big-spending politicians and politically favored bankers benefit from inflation. [...]

"Since its inception, the Federal Reserve has always operated in the shadows, without sufficient scrutiny or oversight of its operations. [...] The Federal Reserve has, on the one hand, many of the privileges of government agencies, while retaining benefits of private organizations, such as being insulated from Freedom of Information Act requests.

"The Federal Reserve can enter into agreements with foreign central banks and foreign governments, and the GAO is prohibited from auditing or even seeing these agreements. Why should a government-established agency, whose police force has federal law enforcement powers, and whose notes have legal tender status in this country, be allowed to enter into agreements with foreign powers and foreign banking institutions with no oversight? [...]

"More importantly, the Fed’s funding facilities and its agreements with the Treasury should be reviewed. The Treasury’s supplementary financing accounts that fund Fed facilities allow the Treasury to funnel money to Wall Street without GAO or Congressional oversight. [...]

"The Federal Reserve Transparency Act would eliminate restrictions on GAO audits of the Federal Reserve and open Fed operations to enhanced scrutiny. We hear officials constantly lauding the benefits of transparency and especially bemoaning the opacity of the Fed, its monetary policy, and its funding facilities. By opening all Fed operations to a GAO audit and calling for such an audit to be completed by the end of 2010, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act would achieve much-needed transparency of the Federal Reserve. I urge my colleagues to support this bill."

And support it they have. HR 1207 currently has 223 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, Republicans and Democrats alike. That is over half of all representatives. With that much support, it would appear likely that House leadership will allow the bill to be debated and voted on.

Attention now turns to the Senate where the bill's companion bill, S.604 (Federal Reserve Sunshine Act) has already been introduced. The Fed intends to hire a veteran lobbyist to urge Congress to vote against the audit. The people, therefore, need to urge them to vote FOR the bill. Contact information for Iowa's two U.S. Senators is below. Ask them to co-sponsor S.604.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R): Website Contact Page or Mail to 135 Hart Senate Office Building, District of Columbia 20510-1501 D.C. Office Phone: (202) 224-3744 Des Moines Office Phone: (515) 288-1145

Sen. Tom Harkin (D): Website Contact Page or Mail to 731 Hart Senate Office Building,District of Columbia 20510-1502 D.C. Office Phone: (202) 224-3254 Des Moines Office Phone: (515) 284-4574

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