Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.
Now, what does "fostering maximum employment" mean? Would we have maximum employment when all working-age individuals have a full-time job, when all working age individuals have a full-time or part-time job, when some specified fraction of the working-age population has a full-time or part-time job, when total hours worked exceeds some quantity? If we specified exactly what maximum employment is, would it even be feasible for the Fed to achieve this? What a can of worms!
It is certainly widely-recognized that central banks can control inflation, though of course the short-run connection between central bank actions and inflation can be loose at times. Some central banks in the world that have adopted explicit inflation targeting have achieved some success in conforming to their targets. Generally, it seems that it is feasible for a central bank to keep inflation within some target range, whatever it is, so long as the range is sufficiently broad.
Inflation targeting was first adopted in New Zealand in 1989, and since then the U.K., Canada, Australia, South Korea, and Brazil, among others, have adopted it. We would think of most of these countries as more left-leaning, and with more extensive social insurance than is the case in the United States, so inflation targeting is by no means part of a general right-wing agenda. In the past, many economists, inside and outside the Federal Reserve System, have been proponents of inflation targeting, including Ben Bernanke.
Given the support in Congress for focusing the Fed's mandate on price stability, the time might be ripe for Bernanke to get behind this. This is certainly consistent with things that Charles Plosser (Philadelphia Fed President) has been saying about a new Accord between the Fed and the Treasury. This is an important opportunity for the Fed, and getting on board with an inflation-targeting agreement could also keep the Fed out of trouble (with everyone).