19 Mar 2009

Barney Frank, the Continuing Disaster

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Michael Graham, at the Boston Herald, observes that the 4th District of Massachusetts’ representative in the House has a lot more to do with the current financial mess than AIG does.

The only thing more painful than watching 180 billion tax dollars swirl down the AIG drainpipe is listening to Barney Frank bloviate about it.

I don’t know The World’s Most Expensive Legislator personally, but I hear he’s quite a cut-up at cocktail parties. However, as legislator and politician, he is an unmitigated disaster. Frank combines the economic success of AIG, the business ethics of Enron and the personal accountability of Ruth Madoff.

Frank began his career opposing Reaganomics, an opposition that stubbornly resisted 25 years of nearly constant economic growth. In the 1990s, Frank sat on the Banking Committee regulating Fannie Mae, even as his then-partner, Herb Moses, worked as a Fannie exec.

Is it a coincidence that Frank has been a die-hard advocate for expanding Freddie/Fannie at any cost?

Since at least 2002, Frank fought an ever-growing drumbeat of calls to slow down the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac train wreck.

In 2003, he famously said that Freddie and Fannie were “not in a crisis,” that they were “fundamentally sound financially.” He repeated that expert testimony in 2005, all the while rejecting the argument that the taxpayers were responsible for Freddie and Fannie’s bills.

And in 2007, he actually proposed raising the caps on Fannie/Freddie’s portfolios – exposing taxpayers to even more risk – and then dumping the new money into (drum roll, please) even more subprime mortgages.

Less than a year later, the Fannie/subprime/derivatives catastrophe was upon us. And the cheerleader for all three? Our Barney.

Which is why it so astonishes that anyone takes him seriously as the self-declared watchdog of Wall Street. Please, Barney, just shut up.

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