Some conservatives - not the main policy makers on Capitol Hill, but some popular voices - see a Ben Bernanke- Barack Obama conspiracy in QE3, the Fed's new action to kick-start the American economy. If not a conspiracy, they at least see Bernanke showing leanings toward Obama.
These aren't new thoughts. About a year ago, when he was running for president, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said it would be " almost treason" for Bernanke to "print more money" before November 2012.
"If this guy prints more money between now and the election," Perry said in Iowa during his presidential campaign, "I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we - we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous - or treasonous in my opinion."
Today, the Drudge Report calls the Fed's action "Election Manipulation."
It should be noted that Bernanke was fist appointed as Fed Chairman by President George W. Bush. But he was reappointed by President Obama. His confirmation was more difficult than expected as conservatives and liberals alike opposed him.
But Bernanke's charge, as he sees it, is to stabilize the economy and address persistently high unemployment. Chances of Barack Obama's re-election theoretically improve along with the economy, although there is probably not much time for the Fed's action to drastically change the economic situation before election day. Bernanke had held out on taking further action because he was waiting on Congress to pass some sort of legislative package of jobs bills. But Republicans and Democrats could not come together.
"We have tried very, very hard to be nonpartisan," said Bernanke at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. "We make our decisions based entirely on the state of the economy."
Bernanke was more elaborate on efforts to be nonpartisan during a March interview with Diane Sawyer.
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.
Those words won't convince everyone.
The Federal Reserve board members "are the ones who always say they want to remain independent," said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., according to The Hill newspaper on Wednesday. "So they should consider, just how independent are they when they come out, only 50 days before the election, with this?"
And here is Sarah Palin's take, posted on her Facebook page:
President Obama is clearly revealing his rapid loss of any grip on the economic and security issues that are of utmost importance to our country. His economic and foreign policy blunders are manifesting chaos. On the same day when we see more chaos erupting in the Middle East and President Obama declaring that Egypt is no longer considered our ally, the Federal Reserve announced that it will spend $40 billion a month to purchase mortgage-backed securities with no end date set. QE3 is upon us.
In a speech nearly two years ago, I asked: "If [QE2] doesn't work, what do we do then? Print even more money? What's the end game here? Where will all this money printing on an unprecedented scale take us? Do we have any guarantees that QE2 won't be followed by QE3, 4, and 5, until eventually - inevitably - no one will want to buy our debt anymore? What happens if the Fed becomes not just the buyer of last resort, but the buyer of only resort?"
As predicted, QE3 is upon us. Is it any wonder that the dollar is down against major currencies? This temporary, artificial economic "stimulus" bought at the expense of high inflation is no substitute for a stable currency and genuine long-term economic recovery. This is what happens when big government centralized planners try to "plan" our economy. President Obama is no doubt happy, though, that this latest sugar fix comes 53 days before the election.
- Sarah Palin