30 November 2011

Good-bye Barney Frank!

We won't be missing you anytime soon!
It is a newspaper truism that what is good for journalism is bad for the country, and vice versa. Let's just say that regarding the pending retirement of Congressman Barney Frank, we're delighted to make the professional sacrifice. Few House Members have made a bigger legislative mark, and arguably no one so expensively. Mr. Frank deserves to be forever remembered -- and we'll help everyone remember him -- as the nation's leading protector of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before their fall. For years Barney helped block meaningful reform of the mortgage giants while pushing an 'affordable housing' agenda that helped to enlarge the subprime mortgage industry. 'I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision],' Mr. Frank said on September 25, 2003, in one of his many legendary rhetorical hits. 'I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.' The dice came up snake-eyes for the housing market and U.S. economy. Democracy can be unfair, and for his sins Mr. Frank was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Financial Services Committee in 2009 and an opening to remake the U.S. financial industry. It was like asking Charlie Sheen to teach an anger management class. The result was Dodd-Frank, which didn't solve the 'too big to fail' problem but did make banks even more subject to the wishes of Washington. The crony capitalism exemplified by Fannie and Freddie became more broadly embedded in U.S. financial markets. ... Liberals who regret Mr. Frank's departure needn't worry too much. The next Democrat in line to run Financial Services is California's Maxine Waters, whose main contribution to Dodd-Frank was requiring racial-preference officers at each of the regional Federal Reserve banks. Journalists may not miss Mr. Frank after all. --"The Barney Frank Era", Wall Street Journal
Barney Frank: Good riddance (Washington Post)

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