NPR logo Is Ron Paul Right About The Fed?


Is Ron Paul Right About The Fed?

Rep. Ron Paul. Jason Merritt/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Rep. Ron Paul.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

As Planet Money's Daniel Costello reports this morning, "Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican and lifelong critic of the Federal Reserve, scored a big win Thursday on Capitol Hill by getting a House panel to pass a bill requiring new reviews of the Fed's interest-rate decisions."

The Wall Street Journal writes that "Mr. Paul's amendment removes restrictions on the Government Accountability Office's auditing authority, giving auditors access to every item on the Fed's balance sheet. He for more than 20 years has championed significantly neutering the Fed."

And The Washington Post adds that on a day when the administration was under attack from several lawmakers over its economic policies:

Perhaps most troubling for the administration was that one of the few measures to succeed Thursday was an amendment by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) that would subject the Federal Reserve to unprecedented scrutiny. ...

Paul and allies in both parties — more than 300 members of Congress have endorsed the measure — are looking to increase oversight of an institution they consider partly to blame for the financial crisis. Federal officials and many private economists worry that the amendment could make future central bank policymakers reluctant to take unpopular steps to prevent inflation or support the economy for fear of second-guessing by Congress and government auditors.

So, the theory in support of the Fed's traditional independence is that it shouldn't be subject to political pressures from the White House or Congress because that could adversely affect its role in setting monetary policy.

The counter-argument is that the unelected officials at the central bank have too much power.

You can read Paul's legislation here.

It's a complicated issue, of course, but we wonder:

(This question will close Sunday at 10 a.m. ET.)

Update at 9:55 a.m. ET. Back in September, Paul was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to talk about his book End The Fed:

Also, early in my career — when I covered economics for USA TODAY — I found William Greider's 1989 book Secrets of the Temple of enormous help in understanding the central bank and why some have questions about the power it has.