The Senate just voted, 96-0, to audit the Federal Reserve. Soon, we will know what the Federal Reserve did with the trillions of dollars that it handed out during the financial crisis.
A few months ago, such a vote would have been unthinkable. One senior Treasury official claimed he would fight to stop an audit 'at all costs'. Senator Chris Dodd predicted that an audit would spell economic doom, while Senator Judd Gregg attacked accountability for the Fed as "pandering populism".
Today, both the Treasury Department and Senator Dodd support this amendment. As for Judd Gregg, he was just on the floor of the Senate discussing -- of all people -- 19th century populist Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan.
People Power is what happened. We built a coalition of people on the right and the left, ordinary citizens and economists, ex-regulators and politicians, all with one question for which we demanded an answer: "What happened to our money?"
No longer can Ben Bernanke get away with saying, "I don't know."
Now, we're going to know who got what, and why.
Releasing this information will show that the Federal Reserve's arguments for secrecy are -- and have always been -- a ruse, to cover up the handing out of hundreds of billions of dollars like party favors to the Wall Street favorites who brought the American economy to the brink of ruin.
But our work isn't quite done. The Senate audit provision isn't as strong as what we passed in the House. The Senate provision has only a one-time audit, whereas what we passed in the House would allow audits going forward. There will be a conference committee that will merge the provisions from the two bills.
The need for audits and oversight over Fed handouts going forward is great. The financial crisis isn't over, and neither are the Fed's secret bailouts. Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve announced it was going underwrite the Greek bailout by lending dollars to the central banks of Europe, England, and Japan. The loans may never be paid back, the Fed accepts the risk that the dollar will strengthen in the meantime, and the interest rate charged by the Fed is very likely at below-market rates. So such loans are in effect just a subsidy, to bail out foreigners.
The Fed has not been chastened. It is bolder and more of a rogue actor than ever. It's clear that without full audit authority going forward, the Fed will continue to give out "foreign aid" without Congressional or even Executive permission.
And it will do so in secret.
So we will be fighting on to get a full audit from the conference committee.
But let's not lose sight of what we have accomplished so far - real independent inquiry into the Fed, and its incestuous relationships with Wall Street banks. For the first time ever.
Our calls, emails, lobbying, blogging, and support really mattered. We made it happen.
Today, we beat the Fed.
Last year, I asked the Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board who received $1 trillion in funds that the Fed handed out to domestic banks and financial institutions. He said, essentially, "I'm not going to tell you." More recently, I asked the Chairman of the Fed who received the half trillion dollars - that's $500,000,000,000 - that the Fed handed over to foreign central banks. He said he didn't know. Half a trillion dollars, and he doesn't know!
That kind of ignorance and arrogance must end. We need to audit the Fed. And now we're closer than ever.
The House passed our bill to conduct the first independent audit of the Fed in its 96-year history. Now it's time for the Senate to act.
A bipartisan group of Senators is pushing for an amendment to audit the Fed. This amendment is similar to the legislation that we passed in the House last year. It's called the Federal Reserve Accountability Amendment. It will ensure that the American people know to whom the Fed is lending our money.
A vote on the amendment is imminent. Time is of the essence. Visit UnmaskTheFed.com NOW to contact your Senators, and call on them to cosponsor and support the Federal Reserve Accountability Amendment.
The amendment is simple. If it passes, the Fed finally will be audited. Regarding all those billions that the Fed hands out like party favors, we will find out who, what, when, where and how. (We already know "why" - the answer to that question is "Wall Street Greed".) But if this amendment fails, the Fed can continue to make hand out our money to whomever it wants, without telling Congress or the American People.
We think we can pass the Senate Amendment, with your help. The amendment is already cosponsored by progressive heroes like Bernie Sanders, Pat Leahy and Russ Feingold. And joining us in this strange-bedfellows coalition are John McCain, Jim DeMint, David Vitter and Sam Brownback. (We hesitate to use the terms "bedfellows" and "David Vitter" in the same sentence, but that would be changing the subject.)
With such bipartisan support, you'd think that passing this legislation would be a slam dunk. Wrong. Wall Street bankers and their lobbyists are twisting arms and pouring millions into the campaign coffers of politicians on both sides of the political divide, to keep their sweetheart Fed loans under wraps. It's time to counter their influence-peddling by making the Senate listen to the united voice of the American People. (That would be you.)
It's time to step up the pressure. Contact your Senators NOW at UnmasktheFed.com.