Mind-Blowing Fed Secrecy

Financial institutions have received more than $2.3 trillion in taxpayer-backed loans and other financial assistance from the Federal Reserve. Sanders asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to name the hundreds of banks that took money. Bernanke refused. Sanders called it mind-blowing that trillions of dollars have been placed at risk without anyone outside the secretive Fed knowing who got how much for what. So on Wednesday he asked the Senate to go on record saying the Fed should publish on its Web

Financial institutions have received more than $2.3 trillion in taxpayer-backed loans and other financial assistance from the Federal Reserve. Sanders asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to name the hundreds of banks that took money. Bernanke refused. Sanders called it mind-blowing that trillions of dollars have been placed at risk without anyone outside the secretive Fed knowing who got how much for what. So on Wednesday he asked the Senate to go on record saying the Fed should publish on its Web site information detailing all of the emergency financial assistance it has provided.

The Sanders Amendment would require the Fed to post online the names of all of the entities it has provided financial assistance to; how much each recipient received; what the specific terms of this assistance are; and what the companies are doing with the money.

The amendment also expresses the sense of the senate that the Government Accountability Office should be given the tools and authority it needs to conduct an independent audit of the Federal Reserve.

Earlier this year, Doug Elmendorf, the Director of the Congressional Budget Office testified that the Federal Reserve has committed nearly $2.3 trillion in taxpayer dollars to deal with the financial crisis - with the potential for this taxpayer assistance to grow to at least $4.5 trillion. Since Dr. Elmendorf's testimony, the Fed has announced that it will be lending even more money to financial institutions.

Unlike the $700 billion financial rescue package that was signed into law last October, Congress did not vote to directly authorize the Fed to spend any of this money.

Bernanke, the Fed boss, told the Senate Budget Committee that since the start of the financial crisis the Fed has provided loans to "hundreds and hundreds of banks," but refused to name any of the banks, or say how much assistance they provided to each bank, or detail what the banks are doing with the money.

The American people have a right to know who the Fed is lending taxpayer dollars to, how much they are getting and what the Fed is asking in return for this money.

During the worst financial crisis in our nation's history since the Great Depression - a crisis which has led to the largest taxpayer bail-out ever -- the very least we can do is explain to the American people what the Federal Reserve is doing with their hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

To watch Sanders discuss his amendment, click here.