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Column: A free society demands transparency of federal agencies
In America, we believe in freedom, in democracy and in the belief that in this country, the people rule. In order for the people to rule responsibly, they must have knowledge and information about the handling of our economy.
Unfortunately, the American people are denied the basic information they need about one of the most important pillars of our economy, the Federal Reserve.
Today, the Federal Reserve operates in secrecy. It creates money out of thin air, it can make purchases of questionable assets from friendly Wall Street firms and it can loan hundreds of billions of dollars to foreign governments and central banks, all out of the sight of the American people and even policy makers in Washington.
The Government Accountability Office, the office in charge of investigating waste and fraud in governmental agencies, is prohibited from auditing Federal Reserve activities with respect to transactions with foreign banks and decision-making on monetary matters. The Federal Reserve was set up to be an institution that was independent and removed from politics but, unfortunately, in too many instances that independence becomes omnipotence. While I am not in favor of politicizing our monetary policy, I do believe we need to ensure that all government agencies are held accountable for their actions.
Because the Federal Reserve was set up by Congress as a governmental entity and given significant power over our economy, it must be held to the sort of transparency that Americans demand of their government. Our Constitution gives Congress the clear duty to manage monetary policy, which Congress has by law delegated to the Federal Reserve. I think it was a mistake when Congress previously limited its own ability to probe all aspects into how the Fed manages the authority delegated by Congress. The Fed’s monetary policy decisions affect every single American and, therefore, Congress has a responsibility to conduct oversight.
The House of Representatives voted on July 25th, 2012, to pass H.R. 459, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act. I am a proud cosponsor of this widely supported bipartisan legislation, which would require a full and timely audit of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve banks, and I voted in favor of its passage.
We must get a full accounting of the Federal Reserve’s activities in order to gain a greater understanding of its role in the recent economic crisis, and to develop a fuller understanding of our nation’s current financial policy moving forward.
We should never fear transparency in a free society. It is vital and we should embrace it. I urge the Senate to follow the lead of the House and pass this bill which provides for a long overdue audit of the Fed. It is time to lift the veil of secrecy.
U.S. Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Harrison Township represents Michigan’s 10 Congressional District.