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Chairman Bernanke answers an unseemly question

September 17, 2012 - Mike Maneval
Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, found himself answering a bizarre and unseemly question last Thursday when he announced a plan to spend $40 billion a month on mortgage bonds and to keep short-term interest rates low through much of 2015, in an effort to speed up economic recovery.

His staid answer was that the decision was based "entirely on the state of the economy," a dull answer less interesting than the question that spurred it: Did the Federal Reserve consider the impact of the plan on the 2012 presidential race?

There are sincere arguments to be made against the Federal Reserve's planned actions - Anthony Randazzo of Reason.com made such arguments regarding how the plan favors wealthy traders over consumers on Tuesday. Such arguments may or may not be accurate, but the people making them are sincere in their desire for America's success.

Unfortunately, the question Bernanke answered speaks to a less sincere motivation for castigating Bernanke - that efforts to improve the future of America and the well-being of American citizens should be delayed if it benefits a Democratic president. It is the sort of attitude some prominent Democrats allege their opponents possess. "What you have are Republicans who are very angry because they're more interested in partisan games at this point than in national interest. They don't want the economy in any way to respond favorably to this," U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., told a reporter chronicling Republican anger at Bernanke for the website Politico. It's the sort of attitude hinted at in former presidential aspirant and Texas Gov. Rick Perry's remarks that Bernanke was "treasonous" for "printing more money to play politics" 13 months ago.

As Frank noted in his conversation with Politico, "the election should be irrelevant to the Federal Reserve." The purpose of the body isn't to leave certain administrations swinging in the wind in prolonged economic stagnation - it's to stabilize the U.S. economy for the benefit of Americans of all political perspectives.

 
 

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