February 26, 2009
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.
Serious discussion of proposals to oversee the Federal Reserve is long overdue. I have been a longtime proponent of more effective oversight and auditing of the Fed, but I was far from the first Congressman to advocate these types of proposals. Esteemed former members of the Banking Committee such as Chairmen Wright Patman and Henry B. Gonzales were outspoken critics of the Fed and its lack of transparency.
Since its inception, the Federal Reserve has always operated in the shadows, without sufficient scrutiny or oversight of its operations. While the conventional excuse is that this is intended to reduce the Fed’s susceptibility to political pressures, the reality is that the Fed acts as a foil for the government. Whenever you question the Fed about the strength of the dollar, they will refer you to the Treasury, and vice versa. 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? Particularly when hundreds of billions of dollars of currency swaps have been announced and implemented, the Fed’s negotiations with the European Central Bank, the Bank of International Settlements, and other institutions should face increased scrutiny, most especially because of their significant effect on foreign policy. If the State Department were able to do this, it would be characterized as a rogue agency and brought to heel, and if a private individual did this he might face prosecution under the Logan Act, yet the Fed avoids both fates.
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. Additional funding facilities, such as the Primary Dealer Credit Facility and the Term Securities Lending Facility, allow the Fed to keep financial asset prices artificially inflated and subsidize poorly performing financial firms.
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.
111th Congress – 1st Session
To amend title 31, United States Code, to reform the manner in which the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is audited by the Comptroller General of the United States and the manner in which such audits are reported, and for other purposes.
1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009”.
SEC. 2. AUDIT REFORM AND TRANSPARENCY FOR THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM.
(a) IN GENERAL. – Subsection (b) of section 714 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking all after “shall audit an agency” and inserting a period.
(b) AUDIT. – Section 714 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
“(e) AUDIT AND REPORT OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM. –
“(1) IN GENERAL. – The audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal reserve banks under subsection (b) shall be completed before the end of 2010.
“(2) REPORT –
“(A) REQUIRED. – A report on the audit referred to in paragraph (1) shall be submitted by the Comptroller General to the Congress before the end of the 90-day period beginning on the date on which such audit is completed and made available to the Speaker of the House, the majority and minority leaders of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the committee and each sub-committee of jurisdiction in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and any other Member of Congress who requests it.
“(B) CONTENTS. – The report under subparagraph (A) shall include a detailed description of the findings and conclusion of the Comptroller General with respect to the audit that is the subject of the report, together with such recommendations for legislative or administrative action as the Comptroller General may determine to be appropriate.”.
Rep. Ronald Paul [R-TX]
The number of co-sponsors keeps growing! Check out the latest list here.