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Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., received ridicule on Wednesday for setting diversity quotas and blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for inflation while questioning Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell during a a banking hearing in the Senate.
Menendez prioritized his allotted time to question Powell about why the Federal Reserve Bank has run out of Hispanic presidents over the years and berate him for his inflation-fighting plan, which the senator has heavily blamed on Putin’s war in Ukraine.
The Democratic lawmaker opened his questioning during the hearing by saying “I want to start on the issue of diversity at the Fed.” Menendez asked Powell to respond to a letter signed by himself and other U.S. senators urging the Fed chairman to accept “reforms to the selection process for bank presidents and Class V directors” so that banks have “Fed leadership that truly represents the public”. “
Powell agreed that he would respond to the letter.
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Menendez then asked the chairman, “And will you also commit to working with me to put in place real, meaningful changes to the process so that we can have a wider range of voices in the leadership of the Fed?”
The Fed Chairman pledged to “have a frank discussion with [Menendez] on this” and pointed out that “we have made tremendous progress” in terms of “diversity” for certain categories of Reserve Bank leaders. “The diversity numbers are, I think, quite impressive for B directors. and C,” he claimed, adding “A directors, as you point out in your letter, are less so. But these are appointed by the neighborhood bankers. But we can have this conversation.”
Menendez was not satisfied with this report. He pressed Powell, stating “‘Less’ but that’s not – it’s worse than ‘less.’ You haven’t had a single bank president in the history of the Federal Reserve that was Hispanic. It’s much worse than “less”.
Powell pushed back, making it clear he was talking about “directors” rather than bank presidents, but the senator continued to hound him relentlessly.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity, and it hasn’t happened. I’m just continuing, you know, I feel like I’m the only effort on this,” the senator said, He then said , “but 62 million Hispanic Americans who represent two trillion dollars in national purchasing power deserve a seat where some of the most important economic decisions are made.”
He added: “We look forward to the engagement that you have said you are ready to commit to.”
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Menendez later insisted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a key driver of inflation and asked Powell how the Fed’s plan to raise interest rates would do anything to fight this. He said: “I think you’ve said here today that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the pandemic-related supply chain issues are maybe – and the energy issues that come from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – are perhaps among the main factors of inflation.”
He then asked, “But the question is, how will raising interest rates on the underlying causes of current inflation ultimately change it? Energy is still energy. The supply chain is still the supply chain. challenge for the world. But nothing about interest rates has had any effect on all of that.”
Powell insisted that there are areas of the economy where “we can moderate demand and give supply time to recover so that supply and demand get back into balance better than inflation. does not decrease”.
Federalist contributing writer and founder of the online video database Grabien.com, Tom Elliott, found Menendez’s questions irrelevant.
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He tweeted: “Senator @SenatorMenendez is currently using his time with Jerome Powell to challenge the Fed’s commitment to racial diversity: ‘You don’t have a single bank president in the history of the Federal Reserve who is Hispanic.'”
“Now Menendez is [tsk-tsking] Powell for raising interest rates because of his belief that it’s Putin’s fault that prices are rising, so higher rates will only hurt Americans. Such dangerous stupidity should surely be criminalized,” he added.