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Bernanke Briefs Senate GOP

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke assured concerned Republican Senators this afternoon that the U.S. has no plans to spend taxpayer dollars to bail out debt-ridden Europe, according to some of the Members who attended the gathering.

Bernanke met privately with Senate Republicans at their request to discuss the European Union fiscal crisis and how it might affect the U.S. economy. Members who attended described the meeting as informative and worthwhile. Senators willing to discuss the specifics of Bernanke’s presentation and ensuing question-and-answer session focused on the chairman’s remarks as they related to the potential for a U.S.-funded bailout.

“We’re all concerned: Is the American taxpayer going to be bailing out European nations and banks? And [Bernanke] said, ‘No,’ He doesn’t have the intention or the authority to do that,” Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters. “I left the meeting believing that I can go back home to South Carolina and say that we don’t have a plan from the Federal Reserve’s point of view, or the administration’s point of view, that would risk U.S. taxpayer dollars or liabilities to deal with the European problem.”

Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who serves on the Banking Committee, shared Graham’s interpretation of Bernanke’s comments. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), whose father, presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), has been relentlessly critical of the Federal Reserve, declined to comment when exiting the meeting with Bernanke.

Many Republicans on Capitol Hill, as well as some of the GOP presidential candidates, have lashed out at the Federal Reserve generally, and Bernanke specifically, as it relates to the policies the agency has exercised in dealing with the economy and the bailout of Wall Street in 2008.