Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has come out in support of one of Ron Paul's perennial policy ideas -- auditing the Federal Reserve. Romney reiterated, though, that the Fed should maintain its independence from Congress.
"The Federal Reserve should be accountable," Romney said at a New Hampshire campaign stop Monday. "We should see what they're doing."
In response to a question later, he said that he supports an audit of the Fed, but added, "I want to keep [the Fed] independent. There are very few groups that I would not want to give the keys to. One of them is Congress."
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who ran against Romney for the Republican presidential nomination, has long called for a Fed audit. His Fed audit bill was passed by the House of Representatives last month, 327-98, with strong bipartisan support.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that the Senate will not vote on the bill, even though he was a vocal supporter of auditing the Fed in the 1990s, before he became majority leader.
Paul also fought to include a Fed audit in the Republican Party platform. The current draft proposal, which will be voted on this week, includes support for an annual Fed audit but also contains language saying that it should be done in a way that does not impair the Fed's independence.
The Fed already has a yearly audit conducted by an independent firm, but that audit only looks at the Fed's finances. The House-passed Fed audit bill would give the General Accounting Office authority to investigate the closed-door deliberations that lead to the Fed's decisions on monetary policy.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke opposes the legislation, arguing that the Fed should have independence in setting interest rates. Economist Glenn Hubbard, one of Romney's economic advisers, has also been an outspoken critic of Paul's bill. Hubbard also recently voiced his support for Bernanke, a personal friend. Romney has said that Bernanke should not continue as Fed chairman when his current term expires in 2014.