Newt Gingrich Turns Against the Federal Reserve

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Ron Paul used to be the only one railing against the U.S. central banking system. Now it's a focus of his rival's campaign.

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When Newt Gingrich addresses the Atlanta Press Club Wednesday, here is what he's going to say: that the Federal Reserve should be audited, and that it should be stripped of its banking powers so that it is focused entirely on protecting the value of the dollar. It won't be the first time that he's spoken out on an issue associated with Ron Paul, one of his rivals for the 2012 nomination. To cite one example, he mentioned the Fed last week in his remarks to the Republican Leadership Conference.

But a whole speech focused on it? It sure seems as if the former speaker of the House is making a play for a subset of voters known for dropping money bombs on candidates without a lot of campaign staff. I say that not only due to the subject of this upcoming speech, but because Gingrich talked it up during this appearance on Hugh Hewitt's radio program in a particular way that ... well, see for yourself:

Hugh Hewitt: Now in terms of what you expect to find when the audit is done of the Federal Reserve, you don't believe there's anything sinister at work there, do you?

Newt Gingrich: Well no, I don't know what you mean by sinister. I mean, do I think that out of hundreds of billions of dollars, some of which went to the Libyan National Bank, a country we're currently bombing, that there's a lot of questions that will come up? You betcha.


Sinister? Oh no, of course not... unless you think that giving billions to the enemy in wartime is sinister! Gingrich goes on to imply that the Fed played a lawless roll in advantaging politically connected firms during the bailout. The next exchange is kinda bizarre, but shows exactly where he stands:

Hugh Hewitt: Yeah, but usually, when I get calls from people who want to talk about the Federal Reserve, in about five seconds, they're going to start telling me the Jews are running it. And so I know you know that that fringe element exists out there, and this is not what you're concerned about. You're concerned about crony capitalism.

Newt Gingrich: Well you know, the Federal Reserve uses that kind of argument to say nobody should ever ask it an intelligent question. The fact you have some people who have extreme views doesn't mean that the questions aren't legitimate. I would ask a simple question. Under what standard, and this goes back to my book, A Nation Like No Other, under what standard did the founding fathers, would you have hundreds of billions of dollars controlled by one person who owes no accountability to anybody? I mean, that is a bizarre model. The Federal Reserve wasn't set up to bail out banks and to cut deals, and to hang out with people in New York City. The Federal Reserve was set up to maintain the value of the dollar... We have an agency which is supposed to be an elitist agency, protecting the value of the dollar, which uses its elitism as an excuse to avoid being held accountable.

There are also reports that Gingrich is joining several other candidates in addressing a "gold standard tour" of Iowa. It is difficult to imagine any of this transforming him into a viable candidate. But it's nevertheless interesting that Paul's long-running crusade is becoming a focus for another Republican candidate. If only Gingrich would turn against the War on Drugs and hawkish interventionism too.

Image credit: Joel Page/Reuters

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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