Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has complained that the bill he sponsored calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve has been “gutted” by congressional committee, pointing specifically to a legislator whose campaign coffers have been boosted by the banking industry.
But in a telephone interview with a Bloomberg reporter, Paul said the teeth have been ripped out of the bill.
“There’s nothing left; it’s been gutted,” Paul said. “This is not a partisan issue. People all over the country want to know what the Fed is up to, and this legislation was supposed to help them do that.”
Paul told Bloomberg the bill has been stripped of provisions that closed loopholes protecting the Fed, including exemption from audits of transactions with foreign central banks and protected communications between the Board, reserve banks and staff.
Paul blamed the chairman of the House Financial Service Committee’s panel on domestic monetary policy, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., for eliminating “just about everything” in preparation for the bill’s consideration on the floor of the House.
Watt, is has also been revealed, has significant connections to the banking industry.
It its report, Bloomberg mentioned that Watt’s congressional district includes Charlotte, headquarters of Bank of America Corp., the biggest U.S. lender.
Further investigation through OpenSecrets.org reveals that the largest share of Watt’s campaign contributions in the 2008 election cycle came from the finance, insurance and real estate industries.
Breakdown of industries supporting Rep. Mel Watt’s 2008 campaign (graph from OpenSecrets.org)
In fact, of $609,072 given to Watt, $217,109 – or 35.6 percent – came from the money sector, including over $187,000 – or nearly 31 percent of his total contributions – from political action committees within the finance, insurance and real estate industry. The next highest industry supporting Watt was labor, which contributed only 14 percent of his total war chest.
Furthermore, the four largest contributors to Watt’s cause were Bank of America, Wachovia Corp., American Express and the American Bankers Association.
Keith Kelly, a spokesman for Watt, declined to comment and told Bloomberg Watt wasn’t immediately available for an interview.
Paul, however, told Bloomberg he intends to introduce an amendment that would restore the bill’s legislation to its original language when it comes to the House floor for a vote.
Paul long has been a critic of the secrecy of the Federal Reserve.
“Throughout its nearly 100-year history, the Federal Reserve has presided over the near-complete destruction of the United States dollar,” he said earlier. “Since 1913, the dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy.”
“Since its inception, the Federal Reserve has always operated in the shadows, without sufficient scrutiny or oversight of its operations,” Paul said when the plan to audit the Fed was introduced. “While the conventional excuse is that this is intended to reduce the Fed’s susceptibility to political pressures, the reality is that the Fed acts as a foil for the government. Whenever you question the Fed about the strength of the dollar, they will refer you to the Treasury, and vice versa. The Federal Reserve has, on the one hand, many of the privileges of government agencies, while retaining benefits of private organizations, such as being insulated from Freedom of Information Act requests.”
Paul has warned, “The Federal Reserve can enter into agreements with foreign central banks and foreign governments, and the GAO is prohibited from auditing or even seeing these agreements. Why should a government-established agency, whose police force has federal law enforcement powers, and whose notes have legal tender status in this country, be allowed to enter into agreements with foreign powers and foreign banking institutions with no oversight? Particularly when hundreds of billions of dollars of currency swaps have been announced and implemented, the Fed’s negotiations with the European Central Bank, the Bank of International Settlements, and other institutions should face increased scrutiny, most especially because of their significant effect on foreign policy. If the State Department were able to do this, it would be characterized as a rogue agency and brought to heel, and if a private individual did this he might face prosecution under the Logan Act, yet the Fed avoids both fates.”