The Gold Platform

Drafts of the GOP platform to be voted on next week will call for an audit of the Federal Reserve and will look at restoring the link between the dollar and gold. Governor Romney has also mentioned that he would like to see a new chairman at the central bank.

Editorial of The New York Sun
August 24, 2012
New York Sun

News that the Republican platform is going to call for the establishment of a new Gold Commission, to explore the route to monetary reform, is the most encouraging thing we’ve heard out of the convention about to gather at Florida. Drafts of the GOP platform to be voted on next week, according to the report in the Financial Times, will “call for an audit of Federal Reserve monetary policy and a commission to look at restoring the link between the dollar and gold.” Good for the GOP, good for Governor Romney, Congressman Paul Ryan, and Congressman Ron Paul, good for the American Principles Project, and good for the legions who have moved the question of monetary reform toward the center of the national debate.

Long experience on this beat, though, has taught us to be only guardedly optimistic. Your editor covered the United States Gold Commission that was established in 1981 to look at the possibility of a return to a gold-backed dollar. The commission was established at the behest of no less a pair than President Reagan and Senator Helms at a time when the value of the dollar had collapsed to well less than a 10th, if that, of the 35th of an ounce of gold it was valued at under the Bretton Woods Treaty. In the event, the overwhelming majority of the commission turned out to be content with the system of fiat money that had emerged from Congress after President Nixon closed the United States gold window.

The commission drew a dissent in which two of its members, Congressman Ron Paul and Lewis Lehrman,* declined to endorse its final report. Their dissent was eventually published as a book called “The Case for Gold.” During this year’s GOP primary campaign, the former Speaker, Newt Gingrich, vowed that if nominated he would convene a new Gold Commission and name as its chairmen not only Mr. Lehrman but also the publisher of the Interest Rate Observer, James Grant. “Our country,” we said at the time, “is way past the point where we need another commission. A commission, as President Reagan learned in 1981, is a recipe for burying an idea, not putting it into law.”

Having said that, we rather like the lede the FT put on its news dispatch this afternoon. “The gold standard has returned to mainstream US politics for the first time in 30 years . . .” it began. That’s a nice turnaround from two years ago, when the newspaper, in an editorial, ridiculed its own op-ed contributor, Robert Zoellick, then president of the World Bank, for daring to suggest that it would be wise do consider a role for gold in the monetary system. The FT reckoned then that it was “instructive to ask what useful role gold can play in today’s world economy.” The answer, it said, “is probably none at all.”

Back then, the FT reckoned that there was “no sign that confidence in central banks is about to collapse,” brushing off the flight to gold that had reduced the value of the dollar to, at the time, to less than a 1,380th of an ounce of gold. Since then, the value of the Bernanke-managed greenback has plummeted even further. So Congress is starting to look to its own reputation, with the House of Representatives passing — in an astonishingly strong, bipartisan vote — a bill that would require a prompt audit of the Fed.

That the GOP’s draft platform endorses the Fed audit is, combined with Governor Romney’s confirmation yesterday that he would like to see a new chairman at the central bank, a sign that things are moving fast. All the more reason to remember that the last time a Republican platform called for a gold standard was 1952. General Eisenhower stood on the plank for the campaign but abandoned it once in office. So one of the tasks in the campaign ahead will hold the candidate to the plank of monetary reform platform being erected at Tampa. It has the potential to be a transformative moment, as the Federal Reserve approaches its centennary and the Congress considers whether it wants to buy in for another generation of an irredeemable dollar.

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