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Ron Paul to Federal Reserve: Open your books

November 5, 2009 |  9:20 am

FederalReserveinWashingtonDC

In February, Texas Republican and Libertarian darling Ron Paul introduced a bill directing the U.S. comptroller general to audit the Federal Reserve's books.

Paul, who ran for president last year, wants the Fed to open the door on all of its secret transactions -- the talks with foreign banks, the deliberations on monetary policy, the activities of the Open Market Committee, and the communications with the regional reserve banks.

In the shadows of Wall Street's collapse last year, he has attracted more 300 co-sponsors, including 130 Democrats.

But this week, he charged, the provision was gutted from the landmark financial reform legislation being marked up by Barney Frank's Financial Services Committee. Paul blamed the chair of the subcommittee on monetary policy, North Carolina Democrat Mel Watt, whose Charlotte district is home to the headquarters of Bank of America, the nation's largest commercial bank.

Arguing that the Fed is hiding the extent of U.S. dependence on printing new money, Paul -- who is hoping to get the provision restored in the bill before it gets to the House floor --  told MSNBC today that the big spending masks a serious crisis in the value of the dollar.

Critics worry that robbing the Fed of its ability to deliberate in private will result in a weakened central financial structure -- and put Congress in charge of managing the nation's money supply.

But Paul, a physician, argues that a doctor would never hide from a cancer patient the extent of his illness, and that hiding the Fed's books amounts to kidding ourselves about the impact of its policies.

"We're still kidding ourselves," he said. "You have to bite the bullet, you have to admit the truth.... It's sort of like trying to get somebody off drugs.... Keeping them on the drug -- which is  easy money, easy spending and huge deficits and all that -- that will kill the patient, and the patient for me is the dollar.... And when you see gold up at $1,100 at ounce, that's a little bit of a warning signal."

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo credit: Bleier / Getty Images

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