WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says Congress could do more to help the U.S. economy this year but has focused instead on reducing the federal deficit.
During his second appearance before lawmakers this week, Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee that Congress has spent too much energy implementing tax increases and spending cuts when the economy was growing only modestly. He said those actions could end up reducing economic growth by 1.5 percentage points this year.
Bernanke said the Fed's low-interest-rate policies have carried "an awful lot of the burden" to drive economic growth. And he added that Fed officials would have been very happy to "share that burden" with Congress.
But he said it's not the Fed's role to try to force Congress to take any particular action.
The Fed chairman made the comments only after Tennessee Republican Bob Corker prodded him to evaluate Congress's role in supporting the economy after the recession.
Corker said Congress has grown too dependent on the Fed's efforts to drive growth, instead of taking action to help.
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