Ron Paul and Jim DeMint take on the Fed, by the Southern Avenger.
A year ago conservative Republicans were struggling to embrace their own presidential nominee, John McCain, still championing a disastrous GOP President, and were put in the uncomfortable position of having to defend both George Bush and McCain support for TARP spending.
In the midst of this tension much of the main stream right became visibly angry at the one man who just wouldn’t go away: Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who relentlessly trashed the Bush administration and refused to endorse McCain, claiming they weren’t real conservatives. And even while Bush and McCain were “abandoning free market principles to save the free market system” by signing off on an $800 billion Wall Street bailout, the Republican establishment still treated the truly free-market Paul as some sort of crazy irrelevant money crank.
It’s amazing the difference a year makes. As of this writing, every single Republican in the House and over 60 Democrats have co-sponsored Paul’s HR 1207 Federal Reserve Transparency Act which calls for an audit of the Federal Reserve.
Given the current economic crisis, it turns out that many legislators are eager to see just how the Fed is able to print new money out of thin air. In the 1980s Paul introduced similar legislation with virtually no help from his fellow Republicans. In 2009 the entire party has lined up behind Ron Paul.
And big kudos are in order for one Republican who has gone out of his way to help form that line. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina isn’t exactly of the same Libertarian stripe as Paul, and no doubt the two men don’t agree on everything. But on the one overwriting and glaring problem any conservative worth his salt should be concerned with (big government and massive spending), one would be hard pressed to find a more heroic Republican alley of Paul than DeMint.
Sponsored by self-described socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, senate bill 604 or the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act, is the sister legislation of Paul’s house resolution. As the first Republican to step up and co-sponsor the legislation, DeMint said, “Ron Paul has the right idea on this. I am just hoping we can get a clear audit. We need to know what they’re up to”.
Like fellow South Carolinian governor Mark Sanford, DeMint was amongst the minority of Republicans willing to stand up to so-called stimulus spending early. DeMint opposed the TARP bailout when McCain was arguing for it. Now McCain and even liberal Democrats like Russ Feingold have signed on to the Senate legislation to audit the Federal Reserve, thanks in no small part to DeMint’s leadership.
In the never-ending debate over who leads the GOP, the media focus on personalities like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh and ignores more important and significant political realignments. That staunch conservatives like Paul and DeMint can get moderate Republicans and even liberal Democrats to form a bi-partisan coalition to support legislation that was considered too radical just months ago, is quite amazing.
When you consider the fact that conservative talk radio hosts like Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and others haven’t said squat about auditing the Fed, you realize that the grassroots right that supports such measures is perhaps stronger and healthier than the status of those who speak in its name.
In the aftermath of the 2008 election when asked to comment on former Republican senator Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party, DeMint said, “I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in the principles of limited government, free markets and free people than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs”.
DeMint was criticized by Senator Lindsey Graham and others for being too conservative and not practical about winning future elections. But DeMint is right. Paul has spent three decades in the House as the often lone voice of true free market limited government conservatism and has never changed his tune.
When it comes to auditing the Federal Reserve now his entire party in the house is singing along. DeMint’s efforts to strike up the band in the Senate continues to grow. Principled leadership first requires principle men willing to lead and if the Fed is finally audited and maybe ended, continuing criticism that the Republican Party is too conservative is a charge Ron Paul and Jim DeMint will be able to share a laugh about all the way to the bank.