Sunday, February 16, 2003

Bunning vocal Greenspan foe, except this week


Kentucky Politics

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Kentucky U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning made a bit of national news with his criticism of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Greenspan last week dumped some cold water of President Bush's $674 billion financial stimulus plan, which is loaded with tax breaks.

"I am not one of those who is convinced that stimulus is desirable policy at this point," Greenspan told the committee, of which Bunning is a member.

"My own judgment is that fiscal stimulus is premature," said the fed chief.

Bunning went after Greenspan, accusing him of trying to weaken support for the president's package.

"You have been in this position for a long time," Bunning told Greenspan.

"Some would say too long. No president should try to set monetary policy. But the Fed chairman should not try to make fiscal policy. That's not your job.

"You are once again interjecting yourself into matters in which you have no business."

This was hardly the first time Bunning, a Southgate Republican, has taken on Greenspan. Here are some of his more memorable comments:

In February 2001, Bunning was critical of Greenspan for not acting more quickly to cut interest rates. "I studied economics about the same time as Alan Greenspan, and my professors at Xavier were better than his" at New York University.

In March of that same year, Bunning said Greenspan, who dropped rates but apparently not low enough for the senator, "wimped out."

In June of 1997, when Bunning was a member of House and sat on the House Budget Committee, he said Greenspan was "jawboning" the market by fretting about overvalued stock prices.

But Bunning's mind won't be on Alan Greenspan this week. His wife, Mary, one of the classiest acts on the Northern Kentucky political scene, will have aortic valve replacement surgery this week at the Cleveland Clinic.

Bunning said the condition is hereditary, and his wife is expected to make a full recovery.

Homeland home run

U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, a Boone County Democrat, scored a choice assignment last week when he was named to the Select Committee on Homeland Security.

The committee of 50 lawmakers is overseeing the implementation of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the establishment of the cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.

"I worked very hard to get on this committee because I felt in would be a platform from which I could work with both Democrats and Republicans to secure the homeland and win the war on terror," Lucas said in a statement.

E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com




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