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Boehner: Bernanke's Fed to Blame for Selloff

Thursday, 20 Jun 2013 | 1:22 PM ET
Boehner Blames Bernanke for Selloff
Thursday, 20 Jun 2013 | 11:51 AM ET
You can't continue to deflate our money and expect the equity markets to go up, says House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), talking to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo about what's causing the markets to skid.

House Speaker John Boehner blamed the markets selloff Thursday on the Federal Reserve's bond-buying policies, but he declined to say whether he thinks Ben Bernanke should remain at the helm once his term ends in January.

"That's the president's decision and I'll leave that to him," Boehner, R-Ohio, told CNBC's Maria Bartioromo in an exclusive interview to be broadcast on Thursday's "Closing Bell."

During a news conference Wednesday, Bernanke declined to answer questions about whether he desires to continue running the Fed, but the White House has suggested he might be ready to go. In a television interview broadcast on Monday, President Barack Obama hinted that Bernanke might step down once his term expires on Jan. 31.

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Although Boehner wouldn't comment on Bernanke's future, he had plenty of criticism for the Fed's monetary policy known as quantitative easing, which he said is "over the top and puts us in very dangerous territory."

The Fed has been making huge bond purchases to help the economy recover from the recession. To pay for the program, the Fed is printing more money. Critics, including Boehner, argue that QE will further devalue the dollar and ultimately create inflation.

"I understand his concern is more about deflation rather than inflation, but you can't continue to debase the currency long term. It's just not a healthy thing," Boehner said. "You can't continue with virtually zero interest rates for a long time. You're telling investors you only have one place to go and that's to the equity markets."

Certainly, the Fed's stimulus has been instrumental in the stock market rally. But lately, fears the Fed will wind down the program have sparked a selloff.

Boehner: 'We're Stifling Economic Growth'
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) discusses the day's market drop, the IRS scandal, the economy, the NSA and the current political climate in Washington, with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo

"The selloff is in large part due to the policies that we've had coming out of the Federal Reserve," Boehner said. "You can't continue to deflate our money and deflate it and deflate it have the equity markets go up without some change."

At the same time, Boehner credited Bernanke for doing his best to help stimulate a sluggish economy, despite being dealt a "very tough hand." Nevertheless, Boehner thinks Bernanke wouldn't have to take such drastic actions at all had Washington lawmakers simply done their part to get the economy going.

"He's doing his policies in the absence of the government doing its part to help improve our economy," Boehner said. "That's why Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill and the president need to deal—fix—our tax code. That would help us promote more economic growth and deal with our long-term spending problem."

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By CNBC's Drew Sandholm. Follow him on Twitter @DrewSandholm.

— Reuters contributed to this report

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