27 Mar 2009

Congresswoman Bachmann Stumps Geithner and Bernanke

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I had heard lots of people praising her, but until Robert Wenzel posted the below video on his site, I hadn’t actually watched Michele Bachmann asking Treasury Secretary Geithner and then Fed Chair Ben Bernanke a simple question: “Can you point to me where in the Constitution it gives you the authority to do these things?” (Perhaps not exact quote.)

What’s really hilarious is that I’m open to the possibility that Geithner truly didn’t understand her question. He tells her, “Congress gave us that authority.” She repeats, “But where in the Constitution?” and check out his furrowed brow. It is a riot.

Bernanke, in contrast, was a cool cat as usual and I think he fully understood the question. Now here’s something that’s very interesting: I didn’t watch the whole thing, but in the few minutes I did watch, Bernanke did NOT say, “Well I’m just an economist, and I don’t presume as you do that I know more about the Constitution than the Supreme Court.” In other words, that would have been a perfectly smooth handling of the issue as far as the general viewing public, and it’s also what the “right” answer is.

Yet the closest thing I heard to that defense was Bernanke talking about the “laws of the land.” I think it’s indicative of how little the people in DC think about abstract limits on their power. Everything is pure political expediency. If something gives you more power and makes it more likely you will be reappointed or re-elected, then it’s “good.” If it gets the citizens mad at you, then it is “bad.” Period.

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