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Perry attacks Fed again despite furor over earlier remarks

August 17, 2011|By Michael Muskal
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with son Griffin, right, attend the Politics and Eggs Breakfast.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with son Griffin, right, attend the Politics and… (Cheryl Senter / Associated…)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday renewed his attacks on the Federal Reserve, calling on the central bank to open its books and become more transparent in its decisions.

Speaking at a televised breakfast campaign stop in Bedford, N.H., Perry said actions by the central bank should be carefully scrutinized for possible political effects.

“They should open their books up,” Perry said. “They should be transparent so that the people of the United States know what they are doing. It would go a long way to showing if there had been activities that had been improper.”

Without such an open air, “there will continue to be questions about their activities and what their true goal is for the United States,” he said.

Perry spoke a day after suggesting it would be "treasonous" if Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke launched another bond-buying program to stimulate the economy before the 2012 election. That comment sparked a furor as critics, including some Republicans, said Perry had behaved in a less than presidential manner.

“I got in trouble talking about the Federal Reserve yesterday. I got lectured about that,” Perry said Wednesday, expressing no remorse for his remarks.

Perry's criticism of the Fed is in keeping with a long, populist tradition of American mistrust of banks, especially big, government banks that operate behind closed doors. Despite efforts by Bernanke to make the central bank more transparent -- he's the first Fed chairman to hold regular news conferences -- most Americans don’t know what the Fed does and are suspicious of it and other elite institutions.

Further, attacking the Fed is actually good politics for Perry, combining some of the essential themes that he and other conservatives are using in this election cycle: Big government and regulation are bad, and everything will work out if America unleashes the power of the economy.

The drawback: Perry risks being branded as an unthinking politician who shoots from the hip. But the colorful Texas governor has carried that burden throughout his career.

On Tuesday, President Obama gave Perry some room to run.

In an interview with CNN, Obama was asked about Perry’s comments, including an assertion that members of the military want a commander in chief who has served in the armed forces.

“You’ve got to be a little more careful about what you say,” Obama said. “But I’ll cut him some slack. He’s only been at it for a few days now.”

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