George Selgin to Fed: Why Object to GAO Audit?

The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building - Washington, DC (photo via Wikimedia Commons)
The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building – Washington, DC (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

George Selgin, director of Cato’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives and a former professor at the University of Georgia, looks on in bemusement as the Federal Reserve circles the wagons and incites the mainstream media in response to what he considers Sen. Rand Paul’s mild-mannered “audit the fed” bill:

Evidently these Fed officials were too busy arranging the Fed’s wagons in a big circle to take time to actually read the measure they were so anxious to defend their institution against. Had they bothered they might have noticed that the it calls for the GAO, and not “Congress” (or any body of “politicians”) to report on the Fed’s policies. They might even have taken a moment to recall that the GAO is an independent agency–just like the Fed’s own Board of Governors–whose head, the Comptroller General of the U.S., is a non-partisan professional appointed by the President with a 15-year term–rather like their own Chairman. Finally, they might have chewed a little on the GAO’s own description of its mission, which is “to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people.”

In short, what we have here is one independent agency of the U.S. government insisting on its right to be uniquely exempt from review by another independent agency charged with making sure that Congress and its departments and agencies perform their Constitutional duties successfully and efficiently. That’s not fighting to preserve independence. It’s fighting to avoid accountability.

Come to think of it, perhaps Paul’s measure will reveal some deep, dark Fed secret after all. Perhaps it already has.

Ralph Benko, internationally published weekly columnist, co-author of The 21st Century Gold Standard, lead co-editor of the Gerald Malsbary translation from Latin to English of Copernicus’s Essay on Money, is American Principles in Action’s Senior Advisor, Economics.