Today David Frum takes issue with some Republicans’ “obsession” with inflation, suggesting that it’s a function of key Republican constituencies’ vulnerability to price level increases. Of course this line of critique is nothing new — the familiar haters also see anti-QE2 “inflation hawks” such as Paul Ryan (not to mention Ron Paul) as flirting with crackpot and totally outdated theories in order to coddle investor-class constituents.
Set aside the fact that, far from being a crank, Paul Ryan shares his concerns about monetary policy with eminent Stanford professor John Taylor, for whom the “Taylor Rule,” which describes the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policies, is named.
The real issue is that it’s not obvious that the charges against Ryan and co. have a purpose, except for scoring partisan points. It’s true that the GOP’s anti-easy money stance is the preferred approach of some of its most important supporters. But it’s also the case that we are lucky enough to have an independent central bank. Ben Bernanke determines monetary policy, not Paul Ryan.
It’s true that Ryan, as chair of the Budget Committee, can ask Fed officials some uncomfortable questions. That’s even more true of Ron Paul in his role as the ranking member of the subcommittee that oversees monetary policy. But there’s no reason why Bernanke shouldn’t be made to answer some wrongheaded or unusual questions from time to time, especially when those questions represent the concerns of a significant swath of Americans.
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