Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) vigorously defended a corporatist compromise stuck Thursday altering his proposed amendment on auditing the Federal Reserve, calling the current language “unprecedented and historic” even in the face of critique that he had “sold out.”
Speaking with reporters Friday afternoon, Sanders faced a series of questions on the last-minute changes to his provision, which came under intense pressure from the White House and top Democrats working on the pending financial regulatory reform bill. Late Thursday night, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) went so far to say that Sanders had “sold out” and that the new amendment “adds nothing” in terms of oversight.
“What I want is in this amendment, all right?” Sanders said with a hint of frustration. “Would I like to go further, sure? Would I like an ongoing investigation ordered of the Fed? Sure, I would. But 99 percent of the American people, they’re interested in what’s happened since the financial crisis—and that’s in the amendment.”
Sanders spoke on the phone Friday morning with both Paul and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who were the two champions of an ‘Audit the Fed’ provision in the House. The senator from Vermont said the focus of the talks was on the mutually acknowledged goal of getting the Senate language passed and then taking the strongest parts of the House and Senate legislation and incorporating those pieces into the final bill.
As for the charges leveled by Paul—as well as by the progressive blogosphere—that Sanders compromised too much, the senator expressed personal disappointment with Paul before dismissing the charges as misguided.
“I was disappointed, frankly, in what Ron said because I like Ron. He and I worked on a number of issues in the House in left-right coalitions,” Sanders said. “I think sometimes you have people working on blogs who make very, very quick decisions without fully understanding what’s in the amendment. I urge those folks who think we quote-unquote sold out to actually read what is in the amendment. I think they will find out that we did not sell out.”
Thursday night, Sanders told POLITICO that the compromise included “very minor modifications” to the original language. The senator clarified what those changes were and conceded it was “a political judgment” he made in order to move forward with the legislation.
The primary changes include more explicit language on the purview of the one-time audit—setting a firm time window for the review, from Dec. 1, 2007 to the day the legislation is signed into law, if if passes. Additionally, the new amendment was narrowed in scope so that the GAO, which will conduct the audit, is not allowed to look into the discount window or interest rates.
This second change was perhaps the most crucial, as a chief concern of the White House, the Treasury and the Fed was that Congress under the original Sanders amendment would be able to meddle in monetary policy decisions—a view the senator contests but acknowledges played into the compromise.