With Europe facing the specter of even bigger bailouts for financially ailing nations, and the leadership of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently warning it may need to increase its near-$400 billion rescue fund, the leading IMF critic in Congress wants to meet with the fund’s chief and discuss just how it is using the multibillion dollar contribution from the U.S.
In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS on Wednesday, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.-Wash.) said she will seek an appointment with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde soon after Congress returns to Washington next week. Their meeting, McMorris Rodgers hopes, will focus on how the fund has so far spent the $100 billion Congress appropriated for it in 2009 (when both the House and Senate were in Democratic hands).
“Yes, I would like to have that conversation with her,” McMorris Rodgers told HUMAN EVENTS, noting that the U.S. is responsible for about 17% of the IMF’s budget and is therefore its largest shareholder.
Prior to Lagarde’s election to the IMF helm following the sensational scandal that brought down former Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in May of this year, McMorris Rodgers had been skeptical of Lagarde, the then-finance minister of France, and her rival for the job, Mexican Central Bank President Augustin Carstens. As she told HUMAN EVENTS at the time, “. . . I’m not excited about either. It’s unfortunate we don’t have a better selection of candidates.”
Asked how she feels Lagarde is doing following the IMF-World Bank meeting this weekend, McMorris Rodgers replied: “So much of her approach appears to be continuing the current path [of Strauss-Kahn]. But it’s too early to reach any conclusion, and I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Let’s see how our meeting goes.”
Geithner’s ‘Not Been Cooperative At All’
So far, the Evergreen State lawmaker added, she has not been able to get an answer from the U.S. Treasury Department as to just how the IMF dollars from this country are being spent and how much of the $100 billion (which was over and above the annual donation the U.S. makes to the financial titan) has been spent in the last two years.
Referring to her efforts to get answers from Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, McMorris Rodgers said, “He has not been cooperative at all. But I’m going to stay on him.”
Alarmed at the recent multibillion-dollar IMF bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal, and nervous that a default will mean U.S. taxpayers will be left holding the bag, House Republican Conference Vice Chairman McMorris Rodgers earlier this year introduced HR 2313, which would secure the return of any unused U.S. tax dollars from that $100 billion IMF package and apply it to the deficit here. So far, the measure has 22 co-sponsors, and a similar proposal in the Senate (SR 1276) introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has seven co-sponsors.
When Sen. DeMint introduced his bill, S. R. 1276, as an amendment to the Economic Development Revitalization Act in June, 43 of 47 Republican Senators voted for it and all but one Democrat voted against it. Republicans, it seems, are rallying behind the re-taking of IMF dollars, and the issue is quickly becoming a cause for “Tea Party” organizations as well.
In discussing the progress of her IMF endeavors with us, the congresswoman said she has had conversations with fellow Republican Reps. Kay Granger (Tex.) and Jo Ann Emerson (Mo.), who are key chairwomen on the House Foreign Affairs, and Financial Services subcommittees respectively. Both lawmakers have said they are “sympathetic” to her efforts, McMorris Rodgers said.
Regarding the growing attention to her efforts to stop or at least get a handle on U.S. dollars to the IMF, McMorris Rodgers said: “There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”