There's gold in them thar hills. Or is there?
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, suggesting America's reserves may not be as robust as officials claim, is calling for an independent audit of the U.S. gold held at Fort Knox and other facilities.
The Republican congressman known for his fierce opposition to virtually everything the Federal Reserve does says the public deserves to know what's behind the fortified walls of America's gold vaults -- particularly in case gold is ever reintroduced as a basis for U.S. currency.
"It'd be nice for the American people to know whether or not the gold is there," Paul told Fox Business Network. And if it is all there, he said, the public should know whether any of it has been obligated.
A spokeswoman told FoxNews.com the congressman wants to introduce the bill in September when Congress returns from recess.
Fort Knox claims billions of dollars worth of gold are stored away in its secret vault. The Fort Knox facility, a hyper-secure fortress in Kentucky that is part of quintessential American lore, is encased in 750 tons of reinforced steel, as well as thousands of cubic feet of concrete and granite. No visitors are allowed.
Though Paul no doubt wants a more thorough inspection, the U.S. Mint is subjected to regular audits, including at Fort Knox. The Mint claims gold is removed in "very small quantities" for this purpose alone, and that no other gold has been transferred in or out of the facility for a long time.
The latest audit, conducted by KPMG, did not appear to detail U.S. gold holdings -- dealing more with gold and silver sales, coin circulation, workplace environment and other issues -- but did state that gold and silver continue to be held at Fort Knox.
Scrutinizing U.S. monetary policy, though, is nothing new for Paul. Last year, he pushed on Capitol Hill a bill to audit the Federal Reserve, an effort that ended with a Fed audit provision tucked inside the financial regulation package.
Paul, in an interview last week with industry publication Kitco News, first outlined his next campaign.
He said there is "reason to be suspicious" about U.S. gold holdings and suggested officials were manipulating the price of gold to prop up the perceived value of paper money. Paul said "it is a possibility" that neither Fort Knox nor the New York Federal Reserve vaults have any gold. He also said he will call for the U.S. government to legalize the use of gold and silver as "legal tender" alongside the U.S. dollar. Let them compete, he says.
"If people get tired of using the paper standard, they can deal in gold or silver," he told Kitco News.
Representatives from the Treasury Department and U.S. Mint did not respond to requests for comment on Paul's proposal.
Gold and silver investment has drawn renewed attention amid concerns about the stability of the U.S. dollar. The United States moved away from the gold standard in the early 1970s, but Paul said it's good to know what the United States holds just in case. He warned the U.S. government is setting the stage for a depression by trying to print, spend and regulate its way out of the last recession.
"Who knows, someday we might want to have a gold standard again and quit all this printing-press money, so it would be nice to know how much we have," Paul said in the interview with Fox Business Network.