Rand Paul has either uncovered one of the biggest scandals in the history of this country, or just invented a new conspiracy theory.
I'll give you one guess which it is.
The backdrop is Paul's "Audit the Fed" bill, which is really an intimidate the Fed bill. The fact is, the Dodd-Frank financial reform already audited the Fed's past emergency lending, and requires it to disclose any such future lending, too. Not only that, but the rest of the Fed's balance sheet is already audited by the Government Accountability Office, the Office of the Inspector General, and independent private auditors. That's not good enough for Paul, though, who also wants to "audit" the Fed's monetary policy decisions. Basically, he wants Congress to look over the Fed's shoulder and second-guess whether it should have raised rates or bought bonds. It's the first step toward stripping the Fed of its independence, which, plenty of studies show, tends to lead to worse policy—and definitely would have the past few years, when the GOP tried publicly warning the Fed off its much-need stimulus efforts.
The Fed, as you might expect, isn't exactly enthused about this bill. Fed Governor Jerome Powell calls it "misguided," and outgoing Fed President Richard Fisher, hardly a liberal, says it just shows that it's "convenient to create a bogeyman."
But Paul sees something more nefarious going on than people he disagrees with exercising their First Amendment rights. "The Fed, with unlimited power to print money," Paul says, "now prints that money to lobby against Congressional oversight."
That's quite an accusation. If it were true that the Fed was printing money to basically bribe Congress with, it'd be one of the biggest scandals in recent memory. Heck, if it were even true that the Fed was printing money at all right now, it'd be a big story since it stopped last year. So what's Rand Paul's proof? Oh, that's right. He doesn't have any. He's just saying unsubstantiated things to try to rile people up and raise more money from them.
Although maybe that's giving Paul too much credit. It's possible that he really doesn't know. Back in 2011, when inflation was 2.9 percent, he warned that Weimar-style hyperinflation was coming. Today, inflation is 0.7 percent, but he's still warning about it. So maybe he really does think the Fed is printing money, and maybe he really does think it's using this nonexistent money to lobby Congress with.
Like I said before, sometimes it's hard to tell the charlatans from the cranks.