House Fed Reform Debate Goes Nowhere

Progress on Fed reform bills looks unlikely in the current political climate.

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Then from the far right, there is Paul's idea of abolishing the Fed altogether. Paul's complaints are manifold: the central bank devalues the dollar, prints money out of thin air, and facilitates government overspending, he says.

According to one expert, there is an inherent flaw in allowing an entity—not the free market—to dictate money's supply and value.

"Central banks don't fight inflation; they create it," said Peter G. Klein, an economist at the University of Missouri.

Killing a century-old institution is extremely unlikely to happen, says Edelstein. "There's broad consensus that we should have a Fed except in the most extreme right of the aisle."

Furthermore, opponents say that it would make the federal government weaker in the face of financial shocks.

"The United States before the Federal Reserve Act suffered from chronic deflation and financial panics; for this reason the period from 1873 to 1896 was known as the Great Depression, until the 1930s got that title," said James K. Galbraith, chair in government/business relations at the University of Texas-Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, in his testimony. By that logic, killing the Fed would mean ignoring history and thus risking another depression.

It sounds scary, but no worry—neither this, nor any of the other bills, appears likely to pass anytime soon.

Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter at @titonka or via E-mail at dkurtzleben@usnews.com.



Corrected on 05/09/12: An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote from Peter G. Klein to Grove City College economics professor Jeffrey Herbener.