Fierce Critic Of The Fed To Lead Its Oversight Panel

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Ben Bernanke's Federal Reserve seems to be on a collision course with one of its sharpest critics. Texas Republican Ron Paul, author of End the Fed, will take control of the House subcommittee that oversees the Fed when Congress reconvenes in January.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Life could soon get tougher for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the guy who has as much access to cash as anybody. One of the Fed's biggest critics, Texas Republican Ron Paul, will soon be chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the central bank.

Heres NPR's Jim Zarroli.

JIM ZARROLI: Ron Paul is a fierce champion of free-market economics, who opposes efforts by the Fed to control the money supply. He even wrote a book called End the Fed. Earlier this month, the Fed released data about all the foreign and domestic banks and corporations it had assisted during the financial crisis, and Paul responded with harsh words during an interview on Fox Business Channel.

Representative RON PAUL (Republican, Texas): Its the atrocious nature of the fact that the Fed is a government unto itself, and they can make allowance to governments and other central banks. I think there is so much more to learn, and I'm very delighted that the people want to know more about the Fed.

ZARROLI: Paul takes over the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy at a time when the Fed is already facing public anger over the bank bailouts, says economist Vince Reinhart of the American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. VINCE REINHART (Economist American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research): The political climate has gotten frosty for the Fed. This is going to be a very hard year for Chairman Bernanke and his colleagues.

ZARROLI: Reinhart, himself a former Fed official, says much of the committee's most important work will be overseen by its chairman, Spencer Bachus of Alabama. But as subcommittee chairman, Paul will be in a position to demand data and documents from the Fed, and try to shine a spotlight on the way it operates.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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