At a keynote address this morning at Netroots Nation, Erica Payne of The Agenda Project gave out Ben Bernanke’s office telephone number, and urged the audience to “call him every day for the next couple weeks,” specifically urging him to get Jamie Dimon to step down from the board of the New York Federal Reserve. An attendee named Alice called the number, 202-452-2955, and confirmed it was the public affairs office of the Federal Reserve. She left a message, saying “I want you to fire Jamie Dimon. I will call again tomorrow.”
Payne made the point that she gave out the number because of the power relationship between central bankers and the elites. “The rich can call up Ben Bernanke any time,” Payne said, so why shouldn’t everyone else? After all, the people are the Fed’s constituents as well.
It would be possible to come up with other messages for Bernanke’s outside of the conflict of interest issue on the regional Fed boards, which even Tim Geithner has said publicly is a problem. For instance, as writer Matt Yglesias tweeted, “the Fed’s role in mass unemployment is way more important” than the Dimon issue. But having the phone number is a tool to do activism actions across the spectrum, at targets that typically are not used to such activism directed at them.
The panel discussion also featured economist Paul Krugman. He said that he read an early advance of the New York Times book review of his new book, End This Depression Now, and that the reviewer was “shocked” at Krugman’s disrespect for Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles.
UPDATE: Payne now has put up an amusing meme on the subject, complete with the phone number.