Begich Sides With Senate Republicans
Mark Begich has become the first Democrat to side with Republicans on a big bill coming up in the Senate. This bill is sponsored by Rand Paul (R-KY), and has listed among its co-sponsors Republicans David Vitter, James Inhofe, and Jim DeMint. And I’m tickled pink.
See, you thought I was going to be all mad, and say that I had a bone to pick with the Senator. Gotcha!
U.S. Senator Mark Begich has added his voice to those calling for an additional audit of the Federal Reserve by the General Accounting Office (GAO). He signed on to the bill this past Tuesday and is the first Democrat to join 31 Republicans in co-sponsoring the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2011 (S.202).
See for yourself the list of co-sponsors ——–> CLICK
There’s all manner of Republicans who have co-sponsored this bill, including Lisa Murkowski, so yes, she did good too. But Senator Begich deserves and extra kudo for actually (GASP) being the first of his kind to step over that bright line and agree with someone on the other side when they were right. And it appears as though the Senator who signed on to the bill Tuesday, has actually lived to tell the tale.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reported last year, on his website, after the first audit was completed:
The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study. “As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,” said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”
It was also found that the Fed basically ignores conflicts of interest. Go figure. They even gave employees and private contractors “conflict of interest waivers” (I’m not kidding) so they could keep their investments in the same corporations and institutions who were receiving emergency loans.
For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed’s board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed’s emergency lending programs.
In another disturbing finding, the GAO said that on Sept. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the New York Fed president, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric at the same time AIG and GE were given bailout funds. One reason the Fed did not make Dudley sell his holdings, according to the audit, was that it might have created the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Yes, nothing says “conflict of interest” more than, well… conflict of interest.
The Fed outsourced virtually all of the operations of their emergency lending programs to private contractors like JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. The same firms also received trillions of dollars in Fed loans at near-zero interest rates. Altogether some two-thirds of the contracts that the Fed awarded to manage its emergency lending programs were no-bid contracts. Morgan Stanley was given the largest no-bid contract worth $108.4 million to help manage the Fed bailout of AIG.
The secrecy, lack of transparency, and corruption in the Federal Reserve has put it in the dog house with Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, Conservatives, Progressives, Bernie Sanders, Ron Paul, and many others from one end of the political map to the other. In these troubled times of divisive politics, when nobody can seem to agree on anything, that’s pretty impressive to say the least.
“I have long been an advocate for transparency in government in general and the Federal Reserve in particular,” Senator Begich said. “I believe in the independence and dual mandate of the Federal Reserve to control inflation and lower unemployment, but its actions should not be shrouded in mystery. The American people have a right to understand the inner workings of their central bank.”
To his additional credit, Begich previously supported a bipartisan amendment to the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which required an audit of emergency credit programs and potential conflicts of interest at the Federal Reserve. He also joined other Senators in demanding the Fed release the identities of banks and other financial institutions that took out loans during the financial crisis under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Begich is also an original cosponsor of the Federal Reserve Independence Act (S.3219), which would prohibit CEOs of big banks from serving as directors of Federal Reserve banks, and vice versa. As it stands, eighteen former and current members of the boards of directors of the Federal Reserve banks were affiliated with banks that received emergency loans from the Federal Reserve System during the financial crisis.
If your Senator has not signed on as a co-sponsor of S202, right now is the time to get on the horn, or write an email, or otherwise let them know you are watching, and you want accountability. This is the best opportunity we’ll have in the foreseeable future to continue this broad-spectrum push for accountability.
S202 is also something that will let you sing Kumbaya with all the coworkers and relatives with whom you normally have nothing politically in common. So, Monday when you go to work, you can have a grand old time going up to that Ron Paul guy at the water cooler and saying something like, “So, how awesome is it that Begich is co-aponsoring that Audit the Fed bill? Those bastards.” Then you can have a good chuckle and break donut with the opposition.