Here’s the video of Rep. Bachmann’s exchange with Sec. Geithner and Fed Chair Bernanke.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., got in a little spat over the U.S. Constitution with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during a hearing today before the House Financial Services Committee.
Here are excerpts:
Bachmann: What provision in the Constitution could you point to to give authority for the actions that have been taken by the Treasury since March of 08?
Geithner: Oh well, the Congress legislated in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act a range of very important new authorities.
Bachmann: (Interrupting) What in the Constitution could you point to to give authority to the Treasury’s extraordinary actions that have been taken?
Geithner: (Frowning) Every action that the Treasury and the Fed and the FDIC has been using authority granted by this body, the congress.
Bachmann: In the Constitution what could you point to?
Geithner: Under the laws of the land, of course.
And here’s Bernanke’s answer to essentially the same question:
Bernanke: The Congress has the right to authorize funds which is what they did in the TARP program and they have given us. In the 1930s they gave the Federal Reserve the power for emergency lending as a means of addressing financial crisis, which is what we have done.
The back-and-forth drew attention outside the committee hearing as well. Writing on Salon.com, Andrew Leonard concluded: “Perhaps this is unkind, but Bachmann didn’t seem to appreciate that Congress’ power to legislate is in the Constitution.”
(Update: In an interview with MinnPost after the hearing, Bachmann said, “My intent to the line of questioning is legitimate because I have a number of constituents that ask me ‘Can they do this?’” She added, “I think it is realistic for us to ask these questions because it is something you have to pay for, I have to pay for… so to ask is this constitutional, bankrupting the country, I think that’s a legitimate line of questioning.”)
During the hearing, Bachmann also asked questions on another topic: the U.S. dollar. Noting China’s call “for the creation of a new currency to eventually replace the dollar as the world’s standard,” Bachmann asked Geithner and Bernanke if they would “categorically renounce the United States moving away from the dollar and going to a global currency.” Both answered “yes.”
Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota’s congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes[at]minnpost[dot]com.