Majority of DC Delegation Has Ron Paul's Back on Fed Bill

By Chris Kissel May 18, 2009

A Ron Paul (R-TX,14)-sponsored bill to audit the Federal Reserve is generating significant bipartisan support in the delegation from Washington State, as an army of supporters--many of them apparently part of Paul's legion of netroots fans--ratchets up the pressure through an online lobbying campaign.

The audit measure now has broad support in the House of Representatives, boasting 169 cosponsors out of 435 members of the House. A slim majority of the Representatives from Washington State, from both parties, have signed their support over to the bill: Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA,7); Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA,1); Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA,4); Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA,5); and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA,9). But four members have so far resisted the pressure to get on board: Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA,2); Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA,3); Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA,6); and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA,8).

The bill was introduced in February by Paul, a Republican with a history of espousing fringe libertarian views that allegedly shade off into fringe conspiracy theories. Paul won over a small army of devoted online followers who contributed millions to his quixotic presidential bid in 2008, drawn to his full-throated denunciation of the war in Iraq and his fearless call for drug legalization. But Paul also espoused views of a more questionable pedigree during the campaign, including a call for abolishing the Fed. While his presidential aspirations ended long ago, his rabid netroots supporters have remained active, and appear to be providing much of the momentum for the bill.

Posts on Paul's Web site and on sites like urge supporters to bombard their local Congressional offices with calls demanding support for the bill. Rep. Inslee became the latest supporter of the bill from Washington State after an outpouring by numerous supporters of the bill at a couple of local town halls. Inslee's office told PubliCola this afternoon that Inslee was pressed by bill supporters to look into the measure, and afterwards decided to give the bill his support. Here's a video from the meeting that apparently pushed Inslee over the edge:


Economists haven't been as hot on the idea of increasing political involvement in the Fed as Congress has. Increased political pressure could take away the Fed's power to raise interest rates and combat inflation--a breaching of the economic wall between the high church of monetary policy (the Fed) and the fiscal power of the state. Supporters of Paul's bill say the Fed has failed to act correctly on its own, and that it's within Congress' constitutional purview to try to retool the central bank.

As far as where our delegation stands, the tangled and unfiltered web of online event announcements and message boards shows that the Reps who haven't signed on haven't given much of a response to direct questioning on the issue. I only found one sign of direct dissent from our delegation--a commenter on says Rep. Larsen told meeting attendees that "Congress itself created the Federal Reserve so that politicians wouldn’t have their hands in money."

Larsen's office and the offices of the rest of the reluctants couldn't be reached for an official comment this afternoon.

UPDATE: Rep. Dicks' office just got back to me. From Dicks spokesman George Behan:

Ron Paul is a nice guy but one of the loonier members of Congress. He's now a regular candidate for President; favors abolishing the income tax and the Federal Reserve and going back to the gold standard. While Norm has no great objection to auditing the Fed (we really haven't studied the implications), he stays away from Nexis searches that produce hits when you search for "Federal Reserve" and "Norm Dicks" and "Ron Paul." The bill won't go anywhere. I am not sure why some others in our delegation have co-sponsored this bill.
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