Now that Ron Paul has gained the chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, the spin has begun that this victory will be an empty one. Some even suggest that libertarians should be, and are, opposed to Paul.
I have to admit I was a bit surprised when Dave Weigel of Slate placed me in that category. While I expressed concern regarding Paul’s communications skills, the fact is that while he isn’t the best choice in Congress to take on the Fed, he is the only choice. Any other Congressman would simply continue to ignore the long history of failure associated with the Fed. Had Dave presented a fuller picture of our conversation, that would have been clear.
Back to the question at hand, Paul will ultimately be good for monetary policy because he will actually bring some oversight to the Fed, which has been sorely lacking. Under the current Democrat Chair Mel Watt, this subcommittee has held a total of five hearings all Congress, and none of them were actually on monetary policy. Two of these hearings weren’t even on areas under the jurisdiction of the Federal Reserve. Republicans have not done much better when they were previously in charge.
Much has been made of a recent Bloomberg poll showing that a majority of Americans want the Fed either abolished or reined in. While that poll offers hope, those of us who ultimately want to end the Fed, should remember that only 16 % wanted the Fed abolished. While 39% want the Fed to be more accountable, that does not constitute ending the Fed. What Ron Paul can most accomplish over the next two years is helping to educate that 39% on why minor tweaks will not make the Fed accountable.
Some have suggested that Ron Paul does not present the right face for taking on the Fed. But the fact remains that if not Paul, who? Given that Paul is about the only one in Congress willing to fight this fight, he merits support, even if that support is occasionally critical.