How Ron Paul got Ben Bernanke to crack a smileTexas congressman Ron Paul, the author of End the Fed and vocal disciple of the Austrian school of economics, rarely draws a smile from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. But he did Wednesday – by confirming his retirement from Congress at the end of his current term.
Mr. Paul actually made the announcement on his website Tuesday. Mr. Paul’s colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee made note of the news before commencing a hearing with Mr. Bernanke on Wednesday.
“I’m sure that that came as quite a disappointment to the Federal Reserve,” said Alabama Republican Spencer Bachus, the committee’s chairman.
The video cameras fixed on Mr. Bernanke showed him smiling broadly after the remark.
Noting Mr. Bernanke’s grin, and those of his staff, Mr. Paul indicated that had he known his departure would bring the Fed such pleasure he might have reconsidered.
Instead, for perhaps the last time, Mr. Paul took advantage of his position as inquisitor to rail on the Federal Reserve as the central problem for everything that is wrong with the U.S. economy.
“The country is bankrupt and we aren’t quite willing to admit that,” Mr. Paul said. He went on to say that “spending wouldn’t have gotten out of hand if we didn’t have a system that provided the funds.” The provider of those funds, in Mr. Paul’s view, is the central bank, which is the “facilitator of special interests” and “takes the pressure off” lawmakers to get the budget under control.
And that was simply Mr. Paul’s preamble. When it was finally his turn to ask a question, he ensured that if this was indeed his last chance to grill Mr. Bernanke, he would go out in a blaze of rhetorical glory. The subject for his last stand will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Mr. Paul: gold.