Sunday, May 16, 2010

Backbencher of the Week

The Backbencher is a fan of the rumpled socialism(ahem, Liturgygeek) of Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-VT) and for the third time he is the Backbencher of the Week. Ever since TARP and the bank bailouts, members of Congress from across the spectrum have wanted to take a closer look at the actions of the Federal Reserve. Even though the Fed is an independent agency it is still a political actor whose actions impact everyone from the very rich to the poor.

Sen. Sanders initially proposed an amendment to completely audit the Fed but the White House, the Fed, and the Wall Street all strongly opposed the measure. Sen. Sanders then negotiated a compromise that allowed for an audit of all of the Fed's actions during the economic crisis. Among the provisions is one that will make public the name of who received emergency assistance from the Fed and in what amount. On Tuesday, the Sanders Amendment passed 96-0. Rep. Alan Grayson(D-Fl-8)who, along with Rep. Ron Paul(R-TX-14), authored a House bill to completely audit the Fed called the Sander Amendment "a significant step."

Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan once said in a speech(ironically the one in which he coined the phrase "irrational exuberance") "The Fed must be as transparent as any agency of government. It cannot be acceptable in a democratic society that a group of unelected individuals are vested with important responsibilities, without being open to full public scrutiny and accountability."

For taking a step towards making Greenspan's words a reality, we award this week's Backbencher of the Week to Bernie Sanders.

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