Friday, November 26, 2010

Rep. Ron Paul vs. the Federal Reserve: a historic duel?

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has called the Federal Reserve an “atrocious organization” and written a best-selling book that argues it should be abolished.

Now, thanks to the GOP’s commanding victory in the midterm elections, Paul may finally have the chance to take on the central bank from the dais of a congressional hearing room.

Paul is poised to take over the Financial Services subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve in the next Congress. With the power of that pulpit, Paul said he hopes to shine a light on the Fed’s policies, which he has long criticized as opaque and secretive, and make the case that the bank’s monetary policies harm the U.S. economy.

Speculation has swirled that Paul would immediately use his subpoena powers as chairman of the subcommittee to compel testimony from Federal Reserve officials, but in an interview with The Hill, the Texas lawmaker said he has other plans.

“I’ve thought about it, [but] I don’t think I would start with [subpoenas],” Paul said.

“They’re likely not to yield … so that has to be held in reserve,” he said. “I just don’t think I should start off with that.”

Instead, Paul said he wants to foster a debate about the Fed’s role in the American economy and begin the push for greater congressional oversight. He said he wants to use the subcommittee to “discuss the relationship of monetary policy to the business cycle and particularly how they create the booms and the busts” in the economy.

But that doesn’t mean Paul plans to ignore the subpoena card in his hand.

“The idea that the Fed can create trillions of dollars and not have to respond to Congress is pretty amazing,” he said.

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