International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Thursday made her latest plea for rules changes that would alter the voting power at the IMF.
House Republicans showing no signs of backing down in their opposition, however.
Lagarde spoke to me about her clash with congressional Republicans following her address at a forum sponsored by the Council of the Americas.
“So I probably sound like a broken record to you!” the IMF chief joked, when I said this marked three times this year for the plea, and each time there was a hostile response from House Republicans.
Lagarde would move two of the IMF’s 24 directorships from European to developing countries, including China, and dilute the voting strength of the United States (the IMF’s largest shareholder).
I asked to whom she made her case. “I don’t think that I have spared efforts in the last three years to actually make the case, to be as convincing as I can, and to describe for those who are skeptics that the IMF role is very important,” Lagarde replied, never mentioning any name specifically.
“[The changes] are not costly at all,” she said, adding that lending to the IMF “actually brings revenue back to the budget of those who lent when it happens and the IMF has paid back a lot of money to the U.S. Treasury over the course of years.”
Recalling that the U.S. was a founding member of the IMF, Lagarde emphasized that “it is the largest shareholder in the institution [and] has a veto right over many of the qualified majority decisions. It will keep its veto right as a result of the reform and, I think, needs to be active in a forum which organizes rather than disrupts economic international relationships.”
But signs are strong on Capitol Hill that hostility to the reforms are not going to budge.
Following Lagarde’s latest, Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., left little doubt no change was warranted in his view or that of his fellow Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee, through which any IMF rules change must go through.
“In recent years, the IMF has made too many decisions based on political considerations rather than sound lending practices,” Pittenger told me, “The discussion over quota reform is another effort by countries opposing U.S. interests and should not distract us from a focus on returning the IMF to its core mission. President Obama has a great zeal for reducing America’s leadership role in the world, which has created a dangerous vacuum to be filled by those opposed to liberty."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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