UPDATE: Mitt Romney eventually broke his silence on the decision announced today by the Federal Reserve to spend $40 billion a month to buy mortgage bonds until the economy recovers. He told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that the move for a third round of so-called quantitative easing shows the economy isn’t recovering.
Referring to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Romney said,
according to excerpts ABC released this evening, that “ what Bernanke’s doing is saying that what the president’s saying is wrong. The president’s saying the economy’s making progress, coming back.
Bernanke’s saying, ‘No, it’s not. I’ve got to print more money.’”
The entire interview airs tomorrow on “Good Morning America.” And below follows our initial item, before Romney decided to speak for himself.
Mitt Romney has a lot of opinions about the Federal Reserve. Yet on the day the central bank decided to unveil a major new round of bond buying — with no set end date — the Republican candidate remained curiously silent.
Romney refused to answer questions about the announcement that the bank will buy mortgage bonds and potentially other assets, when asked by reporters on his campaign plane today.
A few hours earlier, his campaign put out a statement opposing the third round of quantitative easing, known as QE3.
“The Federal Reserve’s announcement of a third round of quantitative easing is further confirmation that President Obama’s policies have not worked,” Romney policy director Lanhee Chen said in that issued statement. “The American economy doesn’t need more artificial and ineffective measures. We should be creating wealth, not printing dollars.”
The Federal Reserve is a politically treacherous issue for Romney. Key parts of the Republican base — anti-bailout Tea Party activists and supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s failed presidential primary bid — revile the central bank for its lack of transparency. They’ve called for a full audit of the bank, an idea that makes many of Romney’s financial backers cringe.
As a result, Romney has chosen his words on the issue carefully. He’s promised not to reappoint Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term ends in January 2014. At the same time, he has stopped short of calling for a full audit.
Those vague positions are unlikely to satisfy his Wall Street backers, who are deeply interested — and invested — in the central bank. At least a few are likely to get their chance to ask questions tonight, when Romney heads to the manicured Long Island estate of hedge fund manager Lee Ainslie for a fundraiser.
The public, though, will have to wait for more details.
The event in Locust Valley is closed to the press.