Earlier this month Ron Paul announced that he will not seek reelection after 24 years in Congress. Paul said he will focus the rest of his time on his presidential bid, but will serve out the rest of his term through December 2012, and then, on the off chance that he doesn’t win the presidency, will reitre.
You’ve got to hand it to him—he knows how to go out with a bang. 2012 has been a banner year in Paul’s career, which saw him transform from a fringe Rep whose hardcore Libertarian ideals rendered him largely irrelevant in the national dialogue to the fountainhead of a bona fide, passionate political movement. Paul is still the only candidate in 2012 to have raised the kind of grass-roots enthusiasm that Obama did in 2008.
As Politico notes, today marks something of a swan song for Ron Paul: his Audit the Fed bill finally hits the floor of the House for a vote.
Ending the Fed entirely has been a pillar of Paul’s economic prescriptions for the country, which includes returning to the gold standard, for years. And while he won’t be successful in his bid to actually end the Fed, today’s vote on Audit the Fed represents a triumph for Paul in having his ideas take hold in the mainstream Republican establishment.
Part of this, of course, is good timing: Since Obama’s election Paul has benefitted from a cultural shift of the country’s right, which has leaned more toward the Libertarian principles of limited government and free-market purism.
To that end, Politico points out that many Democrats are unsettled by Audit the Fed. “There is an audit of the Fed done every year,” says Rep Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO). “It’s not what Dr. Paul prefers, but I think the public has been misled in believing there’s no accountability.”
Audit the Fed means to increase transparency and oversight over how the Fed makes monetary policy, in order to keep it on a tighter leash. Rep Whip Steny Hoyer said, “It will undermine the independence of the Federal Reserve and will, therefore, undermine the competence in the Federal Reserve, which plays a significant role in stabilizing the economy and addressing the creation of jobs.”
Politico also notes that while the bill is likely to pass in the House with 270 sponsors, it doesn’t stand a chance in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid won’t entertain bringing it up for a vote.
Earlier this month, acknowledging his legislative fights would have to endure after his retirement, he said “I’d like to say that we’re on the verge of total victory — we’re not. We’re on an incremental victory.”
Still, Audit the Fed represents a moment in the spotlight not only for Paul but for the influence his ideals have gained.