Several blogs and forums reported during the past 24 hours that Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank, said that Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve, HR 1207, will pass in October.
Incorrect Reports about Barney Frank’s Statement on HR 1207
The source of the rumor seems to be the following video.
A sloppy and incomplete transcript,
which appears to have originated at the Washington Times which was originally prepared by Mish and then copied by the Washington Times, is making the rounds. The transcript is missing an essential sentence, which is marked in bold:
Barney Frank: “I have been pushing for more openness from the Fed. I want to restrict the powers of the Federal Reserve. First of all, the Fed will be the major losers of power if we are successful, as I believe we will be, setting up a financial product protection commission. The Federal Reserve is now charged with protecting consumers. They were supposed to do subprime mortgage restrictions.
Congress in 1994 gave the Fed powers to ban subprime mortgages. Alan Greenspan refused to do it. They had the power to ban credit card abuses. Under Greenspan they did nothing. Under Bernanke they started but only after Congress acted.That’s one of the reasons why in the new consumer protection agency, we will take away from the Federal reserve the power to go consumer protection.
Secondly, they have has since 1932 a right under Herbert Hoover to intervene in the economy whenever they could. Last September, the Federal Reserve they were going to advance $82 billion to AIG. I was kind of surprised and said, ‘Mr Bernanke do you have $82 billion?’ Mr. Bernanke replied, ‘I have $800 billion and under section 13.3 of the Federal Reserve Act they can lend anything they want.’
We are going to curtail that lending power. We are going to put some restrictions on it.
Finally we will subject them to a complete audit. I have been working with Ron Paul, who is the main sponsor of that bill. He agrees that we don’t want to have the audit appear as if it influences monetary policy as that would be inflationary.
One of the things the audit will show you is what the Federal Reserve buys itself. And that will be made public, but not instantly because if it was made instantly people would be trading off it, so the data would be released after a time period of several months, enough time so it will not be market sensitive. That will be part of the overall federal regulation that we are redacting. This will probably pass in October.”
With “This will probably pass in October”, Frank is referring not to HR 1207, but to his own financial regulation bill, which might or might not include some aspects of Ron Paul’s HR 1207. The preceding sentence, “That will be part of the overall federal regulation that we are redacting,” is for some reason missing from the widely distributed transcript, and has therefore been completely ignored by bloggers and commentators.
In recent weeks Ron Paul repeatedly warned against just this sort of thing happening: that HR 1207 might become part of a more comprehensive financial regulation bill and be watered down so that it appeases the angry masses without instituting any real changes. It would be an irony of history if that happened — if HR 1207 were watered down and integrated into an unconstitutional bill that Ron Paul would have to vote against.
What did Ron Paul really say?
It has become fashionable for the political elite to try to distort Ron Paul’s statements for political gain or even put entirely new words into his mouth. Just the other day, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said, “Even [Ron Paul] recognizes how important it is to us to have the Fed independent of politics.”
Now Barney Frank claims that “[Ron Paul] agrees that we don’t want to have the audit appear as if it influences monetary policy as that would be inflationary.”
Ron Paul never said that an audit of the Federal Reserve would be inflationary. In fact, he has credibly demonstrated the exact opposite: that the secretive Federal Reserve itself is responsible for inflation, with the dollar having lost 96% of its value since the Fed’s creation in 1913.
Here is what Ron Paul actually said about HR 1207, the bill to audit the Federal Reserve, and why only a real audit will protect the public’s interest.
Ron Paul: “Mr. Speaker, the big guns have lined up against HR 1207, the bill to audit the Federal Reserve. What is it that they are so concerned about? What information are they hiding from the American people? The screed is: transparency is okay except for those things they don’t want to be transparent.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, argues that HR 1207, the legislation to audit the Federal Reserve, would politicize monetary policy. He claims that monetary policy must remain independent, that is; secret. He ignores history because chairmen of the Federal Reserve in the past, especially when up for reappointment, do their best to accommodate the president with politically driven low interest rates and a bubble economy.
Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Arthur Burns, when asked about all the inflation he brought about in 1971 before Nixon’s reelection, said that the Fed has to do what the president wants it to do, or it would lose its independence. That about tells you everything.
Not by accident Chairman Burns strongly supported Nixon’s program of wage and price controls the same year, but I guess that’s not political. Is not making secret deals with the likes of Goldman Sachs, international financial institutions, foreign governments and foreign central banks politicizing monetary policy?
Bernanke argues that the knowledge that their discussions and decisions will one day be scrutinized will compromise the freedom of the Open Market Committee to pursue sound policy. If it is sound and honest and serves no special interest, what’s the problem?
He claims that HR 1207 would give power to Congress to affect monetary policy. He dreamt this up to instill fear, an old statist trick to justify government power. HR 1207 does nothing of the sort. He suggested that the day after an FOMC meeting, Congress could send in the GAO to demand an audit of everything said and done. This is hardly the case. The FOMC function under HR 1207 would not change.
The detailed transcripts of the FOMC meetings are released every 5 years, so why would this be so different and what is it that they don’t want the American people to know? Is there something about the transcripts that need to be kept secret, or are the transcripts actually not verbatim?
Fed sycophants argue that an audit would destroy the financial markets’ faith in the Fed. They say this in the midst of the greatest financial crisis in history brought on by none other than the Federal Reserve. In fact, Chairman Bernanke stated on November 14th 2007, “A considerable amount of evidence indicates that Central Bank transparency increases the effectiveness of monetary policy and enhances economic and financial performance”.
They also argue that an audit would hurt the value of the U.S. dollar. In fact, the Fed, in less than a 100 years of its existence, has reduced the value of the 1914 dollar by 96%.
They claim HR 1207 would raise interest rates. How could it? The Fed sets interest rates and the bill doesn’t interfere with monetary policy. Congress would have no say in the matter and besides, Congress likes low interest rates.
It is argued that the Fed wouldn’t be free to raise interest rates if they thought it necessary. But Bernanke has already assured the Congress that rates are going to stay low for the foreseeable future. And again, this bill does nothing to allow Congress to interfere with interest rate setting.
Fed supporters claim that they want to protect the public’s interest with their secrecy. But the banks and Wall Streets are the opponents of HR 1207, and the people are for it. Just who best represents the public’s interest?
The real question is: why are Wall Street and the Fed so hysterically opposed to HR 1207? Just what information are they so anxious to keep secret? Only an audit of the Federal Reserve will answer these questions.”
75% Want A Real Audit
We need to keep up the pressure to make sure that HR 1207 itself is put up for vote. 75% of the American people want a real audit of the Federal Reserve, not a pretend investigation that goes to great pains not to ruffle any feathers, claiming that too close a look at what the Wizard is doing behind the curtain would be “inflationary” (Frank) and “problematic for the country” (Geithner).