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Posted at 4:03 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2014
Newly installed Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen has already mastered the art of agreeing without conceding anything: Energy has been a great contributor to growth. Certainly regulation has an impact on the economy. The monetary policy of any country affects other countries. We will monitor the impact of the rule. I think it remains an interesting possibility. We have to be very careful not to jump to conclusions. These and other bromides she served warm to Tuesday’s House Financial Services Committee hearing.
Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who chairs the committee, wants to know if Yellen would be a “sensible central banker.” One wished Yellen might be a Gilbert and Sullivan fan and give the hearing a rousing, “I am the very model of a sensible central banker.”
But, to paraphrase one of her predecessors, the Fed isn’t there to make wishes come true. Nor is it there necessarily to answer questions, despite members bringing everything under the sun from their constituents to the central banker.
Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann had asked constituents what question they most wanted to put to the first woman to lead the Fed in its 100-year history, the steady hand who will back the central bank out of quantitative easing or the cool-headed leader who will manage financial crises for the next four years.
But in Minnesota’s 6th District, Bachmann’s constituents want to ask Yellen why the Fed is opposed to being audited. This, perhaps, is a measure of the frightening mental waste that results from too much watching the snow pile up and the icicles get longer. Minnesotans will one day be telling stories to wide-eyed children about the winter of 2014. It was so cold for so long that they started wondering why the Fed is opposed to being audited.
California Republican Ed Royce and Georgia Democrat David Scott apparently wish their own constituents would take a page from Bachmann.
Californians face severe water shortages, but the strain hasn’t tipped them into thinking about entitlement reform as much as Royce would like.
Georgians weren’t broken by being stranded in cars and schools in a recent snowstorm and Scott is disappointed that more aren’t demanding the Fed give employment the same importance it gives to price stability. Maybe this week’s storm might make Minnesotans out of those Georgians.
Both sides of the aisle still consider the Fed chief’s endorsement the gold standard for their policy product. Royce wants Yellen to go on a speaking tour for entitlement reform. Scott wants her to find jobs for the unemployed. Massachusetts Democrat Stephen F. Lynch considers Yellen just the person to clear banks out of the commodities business. New Jersey Republican Scott Garrett’s view is that bankers need somebody to talk to, and an hour of therapy with Dr. Yellen would be perfect before she makes any international commitments.
Republican Steve Pearce invited Yellen to his New Mexico district. South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney seemed to want Yellen to endorse the idea that failure to raise the debt ceiling wouldn’t be so bad.
No commitments, though, “the very model of a sensible central banker.”
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