The Senator from Massachusetts is one of big banking’s most vocal critics, so why won’t she support "Audit the Fed"?

I appreciate a lot of things about Sen. Elizabeth Warren. I appreciate her vast knowledge of our nation’s financial industries. Having a watchdog agency for big banks was a fantastic idea, and I’m glad it’s now materialized into the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), no matter how many times Republicans try to kill it. I also like Warren’s crusade to lower student loan rates, since the federal government has just maintained high interest rates to make shameless profits off of recent students like myself. Warren -- and the financial oversight organizations who support her -- have also kept Wall Street insiders from getting top positions in the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, because they know the danger of having too many connections between big banks and our government’s top financial institutions. So given all this, I just have one question: why won’t Warren support “Audit the Fed”?

The Federal Transparency Act, also known as “Audit the Fed,” passed the House in September 2014 with overwhelming bipartisan support. Pundits speculated that the legislation would likely die in the Democratic controlled Senate, but some libertarian media outlets hoped Warren could be a key progressive ally. However, when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) brought S.264 to the floor in January, only Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono from Hawaii was on board. In February, Warren finally made it publicly clear that she and her cohorts would not support the bill. “I oppose the current version of this bill because it promotes congressional meddling in the Fed’s monetary policy decisions, which risks politicizing those decisions and may have dangerous implications for financial stability and the health of the global economy,” Warren said in an emailed statement to the Wall Street Journal.

Warren missed out on an opportunity to join in on a historic libertarian-progressive cause, and an opportunity to just sit with Paul and refine the legislation if she really didn’t like it. 

Rightfully, both progressive and libertarian media outlets went after Warren for the apparent hypocrisy. Libertarian think tanks noted that Warren was “repeating the same misleading talking points that Federal Reserve officials” were using. Furthermore, they said, Paul’s efforts were aimed at giving “the Government Accountability Office access to information currently exempt from audits” and “lawmakers… access to all the information they need.” So it’s not really clear which parts of the bill Warren opposed. Even media outlets like The Huffington Post realized that Warren’s “aversion could doom any chance for public transparency surrounding the widespread abuse that banks deployed against homeowners in the aftermath of the financial crisis.” Heck, even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had the decency to support Ron Paul’s partial audit efforts in 2009, and he’s supposed to be a whacky socialist!

At the end of the day, Warren may have just rejected working with Paul as a political move before his anticipated -- and possibly her anticipated -- Presidential run in 2016. If that’s the case, Warren missed out on an opportunity to join in on a historic libertarian-progressive cause, and an opportunity to just sit with Paul and refine the legislation if she really didn’t like it. Paul has shown he’s willing to work with other Democrats who likely don’t agree with him on everything -- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) come to mind -- and Warren could have been another ally in a noble fight. Instead, she’ll still have to battle Wall Street and the big banks with the rest of Congress under the unknown shroud of the Federal Reserve, which anyone should realize is a far more difficult task.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.

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