So why do lawmaker feel emboldened to attack Yellen more agressively than her predecessors? Political climate or something about her?
— Victoria McGrane (@vgmac) February 25, 2015
It’s hard to tell genuine economic malfeasance from the GOP’s general non-stop conserva-yammer, but this seems… significant? From the NYTimes, “House Republicans Intensify Attacks on Federal Reserve“:
The relationship between Congress and the Federal Reserve took a turn for the worse on Wednesday.
During a testy three-hour hearing, Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee accused Janet L. Yellen, chairwoman of the Fed, of using her office to advance liberal policy goals and argued that Congress should increase its oversight of the central bank.
Republicans, who control Congress but not the agencies that interpret and execute legislation, appear frustrated with the course of economic policy. They want the Fed to move more quickly toward raising interest rates and to ease some of the restrictions that a Congress controlled by Democrats imposed on the financial industry after its 2008 collapse.
“Fed reforms are needed, and I, for one, believe Fed reforms are coming,” said Representative Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the committee.
Ms. Yellen pushed back forcefully, sometimes speaking over her questioners to make a point. She defended her actions and the conduct of monetary policy, and she warned against constraining the Fed’s independence…
Republicans expressed particular anger about a speech on rising economic inequality that Ms. Yellen delivered in October, a few weeks before the midterm elections, in which she questioned “whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history.”
Representative Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican, criticized Ms. Yellen for speaking about “issues outside your jurisdiction,” which he said undermined the Fed’s political independence.
“You’re sticking your nose in places that you have no business to be,” Mr. Mulvaney said.
Ms. Yellen, visibly unsettled, responded that she considered the issue important, that all of her predecessors as Fed chairman had from time to time used that pulpit to address broader economic issues, and that “I feel that I am entitled to do the same.”…
When Mr. Duffy, his voice rising, said that Ms. Yellen in the speech had appeared to advocate the kinds of policy solutions generally favored by Democrats, Ms. Yellen snapped, “I didn’t offer any policy recommendations whatsoever in that speech.”
Republicans also criticized Ms. Yellen for what they described as frequent meetings with Obama administration officials…
Good for Ms. Yellen that she pushed back, hard. And now I’m looking forward to see what happens Friday afternoon. Per Dave Weigel, at Bloomberg Politics:
Two months ago, after learning that Fed Chair Janet Yellen had met with progressives, a group of conservatives started demanding a sit-down of their own. “The left has met with Janet Yellen in an effort to influence monetary policy,” thundered Steve Lonegan, a two-time candidate for governor of New Jersey (and one-time candidate for Senate, and for Congress), who now directs monetary policy at American Principles in Action. “Conservatives cannot sit back and allow liberals to have sole voice with the Federal Reserve System.”
After some backroom wrangling, the conservatives got their meeting. It will occur at the end of a week of Yellen testimony in Congress, while scores of conservative leaders are gathered at CPAC, a drive down the road from Washington. “Conservatives finally get a meeting with Yellen, and it happens at 3 p.m. on a Friday,” snarked American Commitment President Phil Kerpen, while waiting between events at CPAC….
The list of attendees is larded with the sort of econo-nihilists (Heritage, Cato, Grover Norquist’s National Taxpayers Union, Citizens for Limited Government) who don’t believe the Federal Reserve should even exist, so I hope Yellen will treat them just as generously as they deserve.