Rand Paul Proposes Ban on Lobbying by Federal Reserve

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Senator Rand Paul is proposing a bill to limit the ability of the Federal Reserve to interfere in the legislative process.  The Bring Accountability Now to the Fed Act would prevent anyone working for or on behalf of the Fed from actively supporting or opposing congressional legislation:

“The Fed has used its immense power to bailout Wall Street and print money to finance our debt. When anyone rises up to challenge them, Fed officials use taxpayer dollars to lobby for more power and against oversight of their activities. It is time for Congress and the American people to say enough is enough,” Sen. Paul said in a statement on the bill.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Federal Reserve Doesn’t Like Paul’s “Audit the Fed” Bill

In a shocking twist Wednesday night, Federal Reserve Vice-Chair Stanley Fischer decided that the Fed really shouldn’t be audited by Congress. Strangely, Fischer made his impassioned plea for the political immunity of America’s central bank…to Canada.

Speaking at the Canadian embassy in Washington, Fischer criticized the audit the Fed legislation backed most prominently by presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Paul’s Fed audit, and separate legislation backed by Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee, would “reflect an effort by the Congress to influence the Fed’s policy decisions,” Fischer warned. He did not mention Paul or any other lawmakers by name.

In text prepared for the speech, Fischer said the bills would subject the Fed “to the very sort of political pressure from which experience suggests central banks should be independent.”

Leaving aside the strange choice of venue, Fischer’s assertion that the Federal Reserve should not be accountable to elected representatives of the people displays a level of hubris not seen since his 1999 prediction that the Fed could manage the economy better without even the modest restraint of a monetary rule like gold:

In 1999 Dr. Fischer was interviewed by Arthur J. Rolnick, then Senior Vice President and Director of Research of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota.  The Fed, at that moment, was riding high.  When asked about the gold standard, Dr. Fischer’s answer concluded that “It may be hubris to believe that human beings can do better than depend on the supply of gold, but we certainly should be able to do so, and are doing so now.”

I hoped that after the housing and tech bubbles popped and the disasters of QE one through infinity, Fischer would reconsider his opinion that the Fed needed no accountability. Continue Reading

Jeb Bush Creates Religious Liberty Commission

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is attempting to reboot his campaign after a rough debate and a slide in the polls.  Among the initiatives Bush is pushing in order to get a second look from Republican voters — a commission on religious liberty:

The committee was highlighted as a key voter engagement effort in a campaign strategy presentation given over the weekend attempting to quell a potential stampede of campaign money to Marco Rubio, who is rapidly gaining steam as the consensus electable GOP candidate. According to the campaign, the commission “will help Jeb identify threats to the First Amendment and assist in crafting strategies to protect our first freedom.”

To Bush’s credit, the commission appears to be more than just a headline grabbing gimmick.  His campaign is recruiting some real social conservative heavy hitters to aid in the effort, including veterans from his brother’s administration:

Bush’s commission includes a number of prominent conservatives, including Jane Abraham, chair of the board of the Susan B. Anthony List, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Catholic University’s Robert Destro, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and Harvard University professor Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson, Rev. Robert Schenck, a prominent evangelical and president of the National Clergy Council, and Jim Towey, the former director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Many of the most high-profile figures on the commission actually date back to the administration of he-who-shall-not-be named: George W.

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Lindsey Graham to Paul Ryan: “Take a Stand” on Immigration

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (photo credit: Department of Defense via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Senator Lindsey Graham aired his frustration with Speaker Paul Ryan yesterday, targeting Ryan’s promise not to push immigration reform until after President Obama leaves office:

“Forget about working with Obama, just take up the bill and vote,” said Graham, pointing out that he’s helped craft three different comprehensive immigration reform bills that have passed the Senate with bipartisan support only to die in the House. “If you don’t like the Senate bill change it, but at least vote. Take a stand.”

Ryan’s promise to avoid immigration reform until 2017 stems from conservative backlash to Obama’s executive actions preventing the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants.  Earlier this week, Ryan said Obama has “proven himself untrustworthy” on the issue.  Graham sympathized, saying Ryan is “very good as an individual” on immigration, but went on to say he thinks this is a bad move that could hurt Republicans in 2016:

“Absolutely I’m frustrated,” he said. “It’s wrong for the House not to take a position on immigration. I think it hurts our party,” he said.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Carson Draws Liberal Ire for Criticism of Fed

Dr. Ben Carson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

With all the recent criticism heaped on the Federal Reserve by Republican candidates, I suppose a media backlash was inevitable.  Timothy Lee, writing for Vox, has attacked Dr. Ben Carson’s comments that the Fed’s zero-interest-rate policy hurts savers.  He didn’t do this by disputing Carson’s claim, but by saying that it’s more important for the middle class to be able to borrow than to save:

The most obvious problem with the Nader and Carson arguments is that they ignore the fact that ordinary people don’t just save money, they borrow it too. If you’ve bought a house in the past few years, you probably benefited from today’s exceptionally low interest rates. If you bought a house 10 or 20 years ago, you probably benefited from being able to refinance your mortgage in the past few years. That’s thousands of dollars in lost income for the big banks Nader loathes so much.

“If you’ve bought a house”?  Let’s leave aside the fact that homeownership is at a 40-year low and ask: how many Americans are actually borrowing money?  It might be nice to have lower interest rates when one buys a first car, or when trying to start a business, but the best way to make sure the banks lose income is to pay off the full amount as soon as one can.  Furthermore, the 90 percent of Americans that don’t own a business don’t need the kind of loans Lee is talking about. Continue Reading

Christie Slams Fed for Zero Interest Rates, Calls for Audit

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sat down with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo this week, where he condemned U.S. monetary policy under the Obama administration.  Christie said the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy has left America with “nothing in the toolbox” in case of another U.S. recession, and criticized the President for pressuring the Fed to continue it.  He also called for an audit of the Federal Reserve to restore the trust that has been strained after “several rounds of Quantitative Easing.”

You can watch the interview below (Christie’s Fed comments start around 3:50):

CHRISTIE: What I think we’re going to see coming out of this is the Fed, who has kept interest rates at zero, now have nothing in the toolbox in case we do go into recession.  Where are we going to go from here?  They should have been raising rates appropriately before, now they’ve got no tools left in the toolbox.  We could face a real big problem and soon.

BARTIROMO: You’re not the first person to criticize the Federal Reserve.  Let’s say you do become President of this great country…what do you do with the Federal Reserve?

CHRISTIE: Well, you want the Federal Reserve to be independent, and you want them to make decisions not based on politics, but upon sound monetary policy.

BARTIROMO: So can you affect that at President?

CHRISTIE: Well you affect it by the people you appoint, absolutely.  And you try to affect it by your rhetoric.  You don’t wind up trying to send signals to the Fed, you know, winking at them and saying “hey, maybe you should do this, and do that.”  Because you should let them control monetary policy in the country. 

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Kentucky GOP Turns to Kim Davis, Planned Parenthood in Governor’s Race

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Tuesday marks Kentucky’s gubernatorial election day, and the contest is coming down to the wire. Republican candidate Matt Bevin is surprised that it isn’t economic issues he’s hearing most about on the campaign trail, but social ones:

Republican Matt Bevin planned to emphasize economic issues in his campaign, but he discovered that voters preferred to talk about social issues, including gay marriage and defunding Planned Parenthood. ‘I hear more about those now as I’m out on the campaign trail than I do about anything else,’ he said. ‘This is what moves people.’

The electorate’s keen interest in these issues has prompted a response from Bevin, who is banking on Evangelical voters to push him over the top.  Bevin endorsed embattled Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in September, and is making religious liberty a major theme in the closing days of his campaign:

As Bevin traversed the Bluegrass State the past few days, his body man handed out postcards that described him as ‘the only candidate for governor that has stood up for traditional marriage and religious liberty.’ In his stump speech, Bevin asserts that only 25 percent of born-again Christians vote compared to 75 percent of ‘agnostics and atheists.’

‘This is why the tail seems to keep wagging the dog,’ he says. ‘We need to stop being so sheep-like, so silent and being led around. We’ve got to stand firm.’

So how likely is Bevin’s strategy to work?  Well, the outgoing Governor Steve Beshear asserts that ‘it’s still maybe a 60/40 split against gay marriage’ and even Democratic nominee Jack Conway has felt heat from the Kim Davis jailing, saying recently he’ll sign a ‘narrowly tailored’ religious objection law.  Continue Reading

Jeb Bush Talks Abortion, Death Penalty on “Meet the Press” (VIDEO)

Governor Jeb Bush talked in depth about his pro-life views during an interview with Chuck Todd on Sunday.  Bush expressed strong misgivings about the death penalty, saying he still supports it but that “it has to be reformed.”  Bush also reiterated his support for “exceptions” in abortion bans for cases like rape and life-threatening complications, but rejected Todd’s call for an ambiguous exception based on “health.”  You can watch the full interview below:

CHUCK TODD: In 1996 you told Larry King that you didn’t think Bob Dole should have a litmus tests for cabinet appointments or judicial appointments. That one issue shouldn’t do it, at the time —

JEB BUSH: Right.

CHUCK TODD: — referring to abortion. You said, ‘You know what? There’s 100 things that make somebody a conservative, not just one issue.’

JEB BUSH: Right.

CHUCK TODD: Do you still believe that? No litmus tests?

JEB BUSH: I don’t believe in litmus tests, but I’m going to make sure that my appointments to the Supreme Court would have a consistent proven record of judicial restraint.

CHUCK TODD: So you’re not going to ask a potential Supreme Court justice if they would overturn Roe v. Wade?

JEB BUSH: No, but I would ask deep questions about judicial philosophy, and then make sure that the person had a proven record. I think the lessons of the last few years is that you’ve got to fight for your candidates that you nominate, and they ought to have a clear, consistent record so that you have a higher assurance they’re not going to wander off.

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New Cruz Ad: When Liberal Media Attacks, Who Can You Trust to Fight Back?

Ted Cruz is following up his impressive debate performance with a new ad highlighting his applause-winning takedown of the CNBC moderators.  The ad, appropriately titled “When the Media Attacks, Ted Fights Back!”, reprises Cruz’s counterattack and the biased media questioning that led to it.  It also covers the overwhelming reaction to the moment from a focus group led by pollster Frank Luntz, who said the comment had the best reaction of any he’d seen since 1996.

You can watch the full ad below:

Nick Arnold is a researcher for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

New Poll: Rubio Gets Big Post-Debate Bump

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The latest Monmouth University poll of New Hampshire Republicans shows Senator Marco Rubio has tripled his support following a strong debate performance last week and has rocketed from middle of the pack to third place, now trailing only Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson:

  • Donald Trump: 26 percent
  • Ben Carson: 16 percent
  • Marco Rubio: 13 percent
  • John Kasich: 11 percent
  • Ted Cruz: 9 percent
  • Jeb Bush: 7 percent
  • Chris Christie: 5 percent
  • Carly Fiorina: 5 percent
  • Rand Paul: 3 percent
  • All others: 1 percent or lower

That wasn’t the only good news for Rubio out of the Granite State.  He is also statistically tied with Ben Carson for the “second choice” award (at 14 and 15 percent, respectively) and comes in second to the neurosurgeon in favorability by a mere 2 points (+45 to +43).  The two are far and away the most well liked Republicans in the state:

  • Ben Carson: +45
  • Marco Rubio: +43
  • Carly Fiorina: +28
  • Chris Christie: +22
  • Ted Cruz: +14
  • John Kasich: +14
  • Donald Trump: +6
  • Rand Paul: -22

Nick Arnold is a researcher for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading