Bernanke to Congress: Stop Screwing the Economy

Says he's not taking his foot off the gas with monetary policy
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2013 10:19 AM CDT
Ben Bernanke waves goodbye after speaking during a banking conference in Chicago, in this May 10, 2013 file photo.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

(Newser) – The Federal Reserve isn't planning to take its foot off the gas pedal anytime remotely soon, Ben Bernanke told Congress today, while rebuking legislators for not doing their own part to juice the economy. The Fed's interest rate has been near zero since 2008, and Bernanke said he expects it to stay there for a "considerable time," according to CNN Money. The Fed won't ease up until unemployment drops to 6.5% or inflation passes 2.5%, and it doesn't expect either to happen until 2015.

But he also criticized Washington's recent economic moves, saying that the Fed didn't "have the capacity to offset an economic headwind of this magnitude." He cited the expiration of the payroll tax cut, other tax hikes and spending cuts (particularly defense spending), and the sequester as "a substantial drag on the economy." Neil Irwin at the Washington Post translates the message to Congress thusly: "You're the reason the economy isn't taking off more." (Read more Ben Bernanke stories.)

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