The state GOP has picked up on something from yesterday's 1st Congressional District candidate debate that I haven't seen in the press coverage.
When asked for an issue that she would cross party lines on, Darcy Burner cited a bill that GOP Rep. Ron Paul passed this week to audit the Federal Reserve. (A Democratic, former US Rep. Alan Grayson, had originally supported the bill as well.)
Washington GOP Chair Kirby Wilbur quipped:
"With her assertion that we should audit the Fed, is she trying to broaden her base and attract some of the Ron Paul voters?"
Most of Washington State's Democratic reps., including US Reps. Jim McDermott, Norm Dicks, and Rick Larsen, voted against the measure. Rep. Adam Smith voted for it.
Burner told me today:
We have a problem, which is that the Federal Reserve is operating without transparency or accountability in ways that certainly appear to be counter to both interests of the American people and their mandate. They’re supposed to be concerned about full employment, and yet one of the Fed commissioners said they had decided they were going to ignore unemployment and they were going to focus exclusively on keeping inflation down.
They have been very actively pursuing policies that recapitalize the biggest banks at the expense of the American taxpayer and the American public. It seems at this point like they are acting in ways that are about making banks richer, not about doing what needs to be done for the economy as it affects most Americans. The bill calls for the same kinds of audits that every other department does, which every department is subject to, which provides some level of accountability and transparency in their operations.
All of Washington State's Republican reps, including Burner's former rival, US Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA 8 ) voted for the bill. "Then he and I are in agreement on that," Burner said.
Calling Paul's bill "redundant," staff for McDermott tell PubliCola that McDermott voted against the legislation because he thought the 2010 Dodd-Frank finance reform bill had already added the type of transparency on the Fed that Rep. Paul was after. (McDermott had originally signed on to the bill). For example, regular audits of the Fed already appear online, and all Fed transactions—including who they're buying and selling with and what the interest rates and prices are—are already made public.
Moreover, "there were onerous provisions that would have prevented the Fed from doing its job," a McDermott spokesman says, noting a provision that would have made internal Fed staff discussions public.
McDermott is all for sunlight—and Fed meetings, decisions, and discussions are already made public—but eavesdropping on regular internal deliberations would, McDermott's spokesman said, "politicize and prevent candid discussions of data, putting the Fed under the political machinations and control of the legislature."
Taking on the Fed has its fans. I interviewed another Democratic iconoclast and Fed antagonist last year, outgoing US Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
At the time, Kucinich was seen as a potential candidate in the 1st because he was facing redistricting in Ohio that threatened to write him out of Congress. He stayed in Ohio, though. And ran. And lost.