This is Sunshine Week, the week where we celebrate government transparency and our “right to know.” But over the last eight years the clouds have crept in, and they’re showing no sign of going anywhere.
Former President Barack Obama failed to deliver on his campaign promise of being the “most transparent administration” ever, and ran up a bill in doing so.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Obama administration spent a record $36.2 million in its final year on legal costs related to refusals to turn over federal documents under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Not only is that fiscally absurd, it’s also a slap in the face to those who actually believed Obama would follow through on his transparency promises.
On top of running up the legal fees, the Obama administration also set a record for the number of denied FOIL requests. The administration also told journalists and citizens it couldn’t find the requested documents more times in 2016 than ever before.
Sadly, there’s little indication that this will improve under President Donald Trump’s administration.
In early January, Senator Rand Paul reintroduced the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, and Representative Thomas Massie introduced companion legislation in the United States House of Representatives, thereby continuing the “Audit the Fed” movement started by then Congressman Ron Paul.
The Paul-Massie bills are part of a push to impose greater accountability upon the political class responsible for the value of the American dollar through their monetary policies. Their argument is, essentially, that human beings are fallible, and the more eyes watching over momentous decisions, the better.
If the Republican Party truly value small government and fiscal responsibility, then now is the time to use their majority in Congress to audit the Federal Reserve System. The Audit the Fed movement offers an alternative to the prevailing regime of secrecy. The Paul and Massie bills, which are identical in wording, would expose the Fed’s international transactions, especially those undertaken with foreign governments or central banks. They would also look into monetary policy deliberations by the Fed’s Board of Governors and the Federal Open Market Committee’s transactions. Specifically, the proposed legislation directs the Government Accountability Office to complete, within 12 months, an audit of the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve banks.
Advocate Ryan Hagemann was interviewed by GVH Live, where he discussed the fallout from the ‘Panama Papers’ leak: the largest data leak in history, weighing in at 2.6 terabytes spread out over 11.5 million documents.