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Moreover, despite the rhetoric, Congress ended up adding to the Fed’s responsibilities, rather than paring them back, after the crisis. The Fed is now responsible, for example, for supervising massive nonbank financial institutions such as AIG to ensure they do not cause crises again in the future.

Eliminating the Fed?

What concerns Fed-watchers most is the ambitious goals of Mr. Paul’s Campaign for Liberty political action committee, which has pledged to spend $1.5 million to push for enactment of the audit bill this year.

While Mr. Paul rarely talks about eliminating the Fed himself, John Tate, the head of the liberty organization, made it clear in a fundraising video that he sees the bill as only a first step to the elimination of the central bank.

“I don’t need to tell you about all the damage the out-of-control Fed has done to our country” with easy-money policies that are devaluing the dollar, he said. “This risks our entire economic system.”

Cullen Roche, founder of Orcam Financial Group, called such anti-Fed talk “unadulterated poppycock” and said he has grown frustrated trying to educate the growing legion of legislators, citizens and investors who have taken to criticizing the Fed.

“For the better part of five years now, we’ve heard repeated predictions for hyperinflation, U.S. dollar collapse, economic collapse. [They say] the Federal Reserve system is a scam, the U.S. government is ‘printing money,’ government debt will be the end of the U.S.A.,,” he said.

“It’s been devastatingly wrong. There has been nothing close to hyperinflation. There has been nothing close to a bond market collapse. There has been nothing close to a dollar collapse,” he said. In fact, inflation has been largely under the Fed’s 2 percent target since 2008, and the $1.4 trillion budget deficit has been cut in half in the same period.