Transcript: Diane Sawyer Sits Down with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke


CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well-- there's a seasonal pattern to gas prices. You know, gas prices tend to rise-- during the driving season. So probably between now and the next couple months up to July 4th or so we'll probably see prices go up some-- somewhat further. After that-- if oil prices stay where they are or come down as-- some people think they will-- we should see some relief. But that's-- that's a guess.

DIANE SAWYER: I'm curious about you because in this political campaign season you have been elevated in some of the Republican debates to a central figure. Newt Gingrich has said, "I think he's been the most inflationary dangerous and power-centered chairman in the Fed history." Governor Perry said that if you're allowing it to be used for political purposes it would be almost treasonous and talked about what would happen if you came to Texas. Even Mitt Romney says, "I'd be lookin' for somebody new." Does that affect you--


CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well-- I went to Texas shortly after and had a great visit. So that's-- that's neither here nor there. I mean, the main thing is that politics is politics. And the Federal Reserve is nonpartisan. Our job is to do the right thing for the economy irrespective of politics. And-- we're not paying any attention to election calendars or political debates. We're lookin' at the economy. We want to make the right decision. We want to do it without political pressure, and-- that's what we're gonna do.

DIANE SAWYER: Well, that's-- it's one thing to do that professionally, it's another personally.

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well, again I-- it sort of comes with the job. When my predecessor, Paul Volcker, was here in the 1980s and was doing tough but necessary things to bring inflation down-- he came under lots of criticism. And-- but he did what he had to do and we'll do what we have to do.

DIANE SAWYER: You've also talked about Congress and you had a white paper at one point-- do you feel that what some people have called the toxic paralysis on Capitol Hill is deeply endangering the finances of the country, of the financial stability of the country?

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well, we have expressed-- at the Fed, not just myself and my colleagues have expressed a lot of concern about the long run fiscal sustainability of-- our economy and our federal budget. And that's something that's gonna take a lot of political courage and-- creativity and-- and leadership to-- to tackle. And-- so far it hasn't really happened. But-- you know-- at the end of-- this year there's gonna be some big changes in the existing law. The Bush tax cuts will expire, lots of things are gonna happen. And that'll be a moment where I hope that-- Congress and administration will get together and-- and make some tough decisions about how to bring our federal budget back to-- a more reasonable position.

DIANE SAWYER: Do you ever throw up your hands?

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well, politi-- again politics is tough. You know, if-- if you're a student of history you go back and read things that Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were writing about each other and it's-- pretty amazing. So there's often a lot of-- a lot of partisanship and a lot of-- of-- rhetoric. Important thing is whether people can get together and do what's necessary for the country, and we're urging them to do that.

DIANE SAWYER: Are you absolutely gonna serve your whole term till January 2014?

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