John Boehner says Federal Reserve 'enabling' political gridlock
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday criticized the Federal Reserve's latest attempt to stimulate growth, saying the central bank was "enabling" Washington's political gridlock by again intervening in the economy.
Boehner, who joined top Republicans this week in publicly urging the Fed not to provide any more economic stimulus, declined to directly answer a reporter's question about whether he had lost confidence in Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.
But at his weekly news conference, Boehner expressed disappointment and concern that the Fed "decided to go in a different direction" from what Republicans had suggested when it opted for a new effort called Operation Twist to try to bring down long-term interest rates.
"We continue to have concerns with the activities of the Fed because it appears to us that they’re taking actions because they don’t believe the political system can do what needs to be done," Boehner said, a day after the House was unable to pass a temporary spending bill to keep the government running past Nov. 18.
"Frankly I think that’s enabling the political process rather than forcing the political process to do what it should do," he continued, "and that’s to deal with our deficit and our debt, which is imperiling jobs and imperiling the future for our kids and grandkids."
The Fed has become a target of sharp criticism by some Republicans in recent weeks for its extraordinary attempts to bolster the sluggish recovery.
The letter sent to Bernanke this week from Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virg.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.) and Senate Asst. Minority Leader Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was extraordinary in its own right as an attempt to politically influence the central bank.
But the Republican congressional leaders said they were worried about the Fed's expansion of power.
"The American people have reason to be skeptical of the Federal Reserve vastly increasing its role in the economy if measurable outcomes cannot be demonstrated," they wrote.
-- Jim Puzzanghera in Washington
Photo: House Speaker John A. Boehner at his weekly news conference. Credit: Reuters