Sometimes the best way to deep six an idea is to have it “studied.” But commissions, especially those created by Congress, can do just the opposite.
Under the careful stewardship of high-profile politicians and savvy staff, a commission’s recommendations can be very effective in focusing attention on a subject and changing public policy.
Although each had his own ideas as to the role gold should play within the United States’ economy, veteran lawmaker Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina and congressional newcomer Rep. Ron Paul of Texas joined forces in 1980 to legislatively establish the Gold Commission.
Under the radar
Creation of the Gold Commission flew under the radar in many respects.
A freestanding bill did not establish it. Rather, it was added as an amendment in the Senate (by Helms) and the House (by Paul) to legislation having to do with enlarging the quota assigned to the United States in the International Monetary Fund.
Howard Segermark (who would later lead the Industry Council for Tangible Assets in its formative years — 1985 to 1991) at the time was economic counsel to Helms and recently recalled that the Carter Administration “did not want a commission at all.”
After Helms threatened to filibuster the International Monetary Fund bill, Segermark (as Helms’ point man) negotiated with Carter aides the inclusion of the commission, and the authorizing legislation moved forward. President Carter signed Public Law 96-389, containing the Gold Commission amendment, into law Oct. 7, 1980.
With the presidential election just a scant 28 days away, the Carter administration did not appoint members to the Gold Commission.