Seeking More Sunshine from the Federal Reserve

Regarding the July 24 editorial "Focus on the Fed":

What a sad day for a newspaper with a storied reputation for exposing waste, fraud and abuse in government, to oppose the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act, legislation that would simply increase transparency at the Federal Reserve.

The Fed has expanded its balance sheet by more than $1 trillion in taxpayer dollars in response to the financial crisis. Who received this money? Is it being used primarily to help ordinary Americans or just the wealthy and well-connected? What conflicts of interest exist between members of the Fed and Wall Street bankers? This is all information that the American people deserve to know.

The Fed isn't answering these questions. That is why an independent audit of the Fed is gaining such bipartisan support.

This legislation wouldn't undermine the Fed's independence, and it wouldn't put Congress in charge of monetary policy. An audit is simply an examination of records or financial accounts to check their accuracy.

We must not equate "independence" with secrecy. No matter how intelligent or well-intentioned the Fed chairman and his staff may be, it isn't appropriate to give a handful of people the power to lend an unlimited supply of money to anyone it wants without sufficient oversight.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The American people have a right to know what is being done with their hard-earned taxpayer dollars. This money does not belong to the Fed; it belongs to the American people.


U.S. Senator (I-Vt.)


The writer is the sponsor of the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act. (Washington Post., 7.28.2009)

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