Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for holding this hearing, and I would like to thank Chairman Greenspan for coming before the committee today.
We all know that our nation's economy has been sputtering. We had good growth in the first quarter of last year. We had weak growth in the second quarter. We had good growth again in the third quarter. We had almost no growth in the fourth quarter.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment was down in January, after a sharp rise in December. The stock market was up, now on the uncertainty of a possible war, it is down. Energy prices are up, but interest rates are still low.
As I have pointed out many times, I believe that you waited way too long to cut the federal funds rate when the economy started tanking in 2000.
I believe that delay has greatly contributed to the state our economy is in right now. Unfortunately, we don't have a time machine to fix past mistakes.
You did aggressively cut rates to try and help right the economy. So much so that it's pretty difficult to cut much more. Unfortunately it was late in the game.
Hopefully you will have some good news for us today. The American people still do not have strong confidence in this economy. They may see a light at the end of the tunnel, but they still think it might be a train.
Your words matter, Mr. Chairman. Maybe more than they should, but they matter.
You make statements on fiscal policy, which you should not be doing. I understand you sometimes make statements you believe are off the record. And your comments about the president's economic plan may have been taken out of context.
But this is Washington. Every microphone is "wired and hot".
You have been in this town for a long time. Some might say too long. You know how to "play the game", and you have played it well. If you are innocent, and if the statement you made about the President's plan was off the record and out of context, you should have known better.
If it was neither off the record nor out of context, then you are once again injecting yourself into matters where you have no business. Like you, I believe the Federal Reserve should be fiercely independent. No president should try and set monetary policy that's not his job.
But a Fed chairman should not try and set fiscal policy. That is not your job. It is a two way street.
I understand you are asked questions about fiscal policy. I am sure you will be asked some fiscal policy questions at this hearing today. You should answer them truthfully.
But just as the President should not undermine you on monetary policy, you should not undermine him or Congress on fiscal policy.
Once again, thank you, Chairman Shelby for holding this hearing.
Thank you, Chairman Greenspan, for running the gauntlet today. I look forward to talking with you further during the question and answer period.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.