Sanders: White House Lobbies Against Amendment to Audit Fed with “Bogus” Arguments

May 6, 2010 1:07pm

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, to explain to him that the White House officials oppose Sanders’ amendment to allow an audit of the Federal Reserve because their economic advisers believe it “would get Congress involved in the day-to-day affairs of Fed in monetary policy,” Sanders told ABC News.

“That’s just not true,” Sanders said. “It’s not accurate. I know that’s what the Fed is saying. I know that’s what Treasury is saying. But it’s bogus.”

The amendment would allow the Government Accountability Office to conduct an audit of the $2 trillion in taxpayer dollars that went to financial institutions. It states: “Nothing in this [amendment] shall be construed as interference in or dictation of monetary policy to the Federal Reserve System by the Congress or the Government Accountability Office.”

“What people are saying is the Fed has enormous power and while Congress absolutely should not be doing monetary policy – raising interest rates, lowering interest rates — it is unacceptable to give trillions of dollars in zero or near-zero interest loans to large financial organizations, with the American people having no idea which organizations,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ amendment, http://www.sanders.senate.gov/graphics/SingleAmendment.pdf a version of which received 59 votes last year in a procedural vote – though not the magic  number 60 which would have allowed the amendment to proceed to a majority vote – may be brought up on the floor of the Senate today.

One senator told Sanders recently that he’d just talked to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “on the phone arguing against” the amendment.

“I am a supporter of the president's,” Sanders told ABC News. “In many respects he’s done a good job in office. But I’m disappointed in his general overall attitude towards Wall Street. And obviously I’m disappointed in his opposition to my amendment.”

Sanders described support for his amendment as “most unusual” politically since it’s not only him – a socialist – and some of the most liberal and progressive members of the Senate working with some of the most conservative members to pass the bill, such as Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, but both grass roots conservative organizations such as the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Campaign for Liberty and the Rutherford Institute are working with MoveOn.org, the SEIU, AFL-CIO and Public Citizen to support the bill.

“That is a very strange coalition of people,” Sanders said.

Sanders said he told Emanuel that the White House economic aides arguing that the bill would involved Congress is the Fed’s involvement in monetary policy are simply incorrect.

“What are the real reasons” they oppose the bill? Sanders asks. “I don’t know. The bottom line is: it’s fun to do things in secret.”

-jpt

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