Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke with his unenviable job of trying to save the crumbling American economy with interest rate tweaks is sort of like a firefighter standing before a Texas wildfire who gets to shoot at it with a water pistol while everyone yells at him about the size and type of his water pistol. The GOP leadership, on the other hand, is more like a different firefighter who stands a little further away and fires torpedoes into the blaze in the hopes that he will be elected winner of the smoldering remains after his colleagues have been burned alive. To that end, top Republican Senate and House leaders sent a strongly-worded letter to Bernanke Tuesday warning him to leave off his latest plan to stimulate the economy, because it has a near-zero chance of making everything slightly less terrible that still rhetorically counts for more than “doing nothing, screw everybody,” as the GOP strategic plan outlines.
In a Tuesday letter to Bernanke, leaked to the press, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), ostentatiously cautioned Bernanke against providing the economy any further monetary stimulus.
“[W]e submit that the board should resist further extraordinary intervention in the U.S. economy, particularly without a clear articulation of the goals of such a policy, direction for success, ample data proving a case for economic action and quantifiable benefits to the American people,” the Republicans write.
Because the Fed’s monetary policy decisions are expressly intended to be immune to political pressures the letter has generated backlash from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Who even knows why they are sending creepy letters around to poor Ben Bernanke. The Fed still pretty much repeatedly tells everyone “nothing will improve, ever,” and Bernanke reportedly just wants to try out for fun (as these things usually go) some kind of short-term Treasury securities “where’d they all go?” magic routine to shush the howler monkeys while the ship sinks:
Most economists expect the Fed to announce a plan Wednesday to shift money in its $1.7 trillion portfolio out of short-term securities and into longer-term holdings.
The plan could lower Treasury yields further. Ultimately, it could reduce rates on mortgages and other consumer and business loans.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to advocate the move despite criticism from within the Fed and from Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates.