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Let's be Frank

Barney Frank should thank his lucky stars that I was not one of the eight bank CEO's forced to prostrate themselves before the House Financial Services Committee today. To steal a phrase from Kathy Griffin, I'd have slapped the dick out of his mouth.

Frank criticized the bonus culture of banks, however, hitting at the banks' contention that compensation was important to keep talented people. "If I told you you wouldn't get a bonus, what part of your job wouldn't you do?" he asked.
It's no surprise one of 535 lackwits enjoying what for all practical purposes is a lifetime appointment to Congress has no understanding of the competition for talented individuals that occurs in the private sector. The obvious answer to the question for truly talented individuals - you know, the kinds of folks who possess the knowledge and capability to actually revive a failing company - is, "I would do my job to the best of my ability until I could find a new gig in an industry you braying jackasses aren't grandstanding about."

Why hasn't Barney Frank resigned from his seat in shame?

The July 3, 1998, Reliable Source column in The Washington Post reported Frank, who is openly gay, had a relationship with Herb Moses, an executive for the now-government controlled Fannie Mae. The column revealed the two had split up at the time but also said Frank was referring to Moses as his "spouse." Another Washington Post report said Frank called Moses his "lover" and that the two were "still friends" after the breakup.
...
While the relationship reportedly ended 10 years ago, Frank was serving on the House Banking Committee the entire 10 years they were together. The committee is the primary House body which along with the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) has jurisdiction over the government-sponsored enterprises.

He has served on the committee since becoming a congressman in 1981 and became the ranking Democrat on the committee in 2003. He became chairman of the committee, now called the House Financial Services Committee, in 2007.
...
Moses left Fannie in 1998 to start his own pottery business. National Mortgage News called Moses a "mortgage guru" and said he developed "many of Fannie Mae's affordable housing and home improvement lending programs. Moses ended his relationship with Frank just months after he left Fannie.

So, twenty eight years on the House Banking/Finacial Services Committee - including ten while he was taking warm showers until the wee hours of the morning with a Fannie Mae executive. I believe grifters call manipulating their mark with sex "The Honey Pot". But don't blame Frank, there's nothing he could have done to rein in Wall Street greed.
The first concerted push to rein in Fan and Fred in Congress came as far back as 1992, and Mr. Frank was right there, standing athwart. But things really picked up this decade, and Barney was there at every turn. Let's roll the audiotape:

In 2000, then-Rep. Richard Baker proposed a bill to reform Fannie and Freddie's oversight. Mr. Frank dismissed the idea, saying concerns about the two were "overblown" and that there was "no federal liability there whatsoever."

Two years later, Mr. Frank was at it again. "I do not regard Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as problems," he said in response to another reform push. And then: "I regard them as great assets." Great or not, we'll give Mr. Frank this: Their assets are now Uncle Sam's assets, even if those come along with $5.4 trillion in debt and other liabilities.

Again in June 2003, the favorite of the Beltway press corps assured the public that "there is no federal guarantee" of Fan and Fred obligations.

A month later, Freddie Mac's multibillion-dollar accounting scandal broke into the open. But Mr. Frank was sanguine. "I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis," he said at the time.

Three months later he repeated the claim that Fannie and Freddie posed no "threat to the Treasury." Even suggesting that heresy, he added, could become "a self-fulfilling prophecy."

In April 2004, Fannie announced a multibillion-dollar financial "misstatement" of its own. Mr. Frank was back for the defense. Fannie and Freddie posed no risk to taxpayers, he said, adding that "I think Wall Street will get over it" if the two collapsed. Yes, they're certainly "over it" on the Street now that Uncle Sam is guaranteeing their Fannie paper, and even Fannie's subordinated debt.

By early 2007, Mr. Frank was in charge of the House Financial Services Committee, arguing that he had long favored some kind of reform. "What blocked it [reform] last year," Mr. Frank said then, "was the insistence of some economic conservative fundamentalists in the Bush Administration who, to be honest, don't think there should be a Fannie Mae or a Freddie Mac." What really blocked it was Mr. Frank's insistence that any reform be watered down and not include any reduction in their MBS holdings.

In January of last year, Mr. Frank also noted one reason he liked Fannie and Freddie so much: They were subject to his political direction. Contrasting Fan and Fred with private-sector mortgage financers, he noted, "I can ask Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to show forbearance" in a housing crisis. That is to say, because Fannie and Freddie are political creatures, Mr. Frank believed they would do his bidding.

And this is exactly what Mr. Frank attempted to prove when the housing market started to go south. He encouraged the companies to guarantee more "affordable" mortgages, thus abetting their disastrous plunge into subprime and Alt-A loans. He also pushed for, and got, an increase in the conforming-loan limits to allow Fan and Fred to securitize and guarantee larger mortgages. And he pressured regulators to ease up on their capital requirements -- which now means taxpayers will have to make up that capital shortfall.

I guess that's what Obama means when he talks about failed policies of the last eight years that got us into this mess.

Thanks a million, Massachusetts! Has sending Barney Frank to Washington lo these many years been some pathetic attempt to make Ted Kennedy and John Kerry seem semi-competent in comparison? I'd suggest Frank be ridden out of town on a rail if I was absolutely sure he wouldn't enjoy it. They say you get the government you deserve. What did America do to deserve this?


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Comments (33)

The people of Massachusetts... (Below threshold)

The people of Massachusetts were all dropped on their heads at birth. There's no other explanation for the choices they have made in the voting booth.

Massholes vote by party, th... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

Massholes vote by party, that's all. They see the D after his name, they vote for him.

And Frank hasn't resigned from his seat in shame because his sense of shame was surgically removed (along with his brain and his reservoir of common sense) when he was first elected to Congress.

"Concerns were overblown." ... (Below threshold)
David:

"Concerns were overblown." As Glenn would say, "Heh!"

Why is it that you can't ta... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Why is it that you can't talk about Barney Frank without thinking and writing about gay sex? Odd fixation.

BTW, awesome headline.

baron von ottomatic writes:... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

baron von ottomatic writes:

"Barney Frank should thank his lucky stars that I was not one of the eight bank CEO's forced to prostrate themselves before the House Financial Services Committee today."

Baron von Ottomatic imagines he's:

"one of the eight bank CEO's forced to prostrate themselves before the House Financial Services Committee today."

And I'm Rogier van der Weyden! *snort*

I couldnt have said it bett... (Below threshold)
retired military:

I couldnt have said it better myself. Wait for the punch line at the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kfea6IWiYu0

One can only assume that th... (Below threshold)

One can only assume that these particular CEOs were picked because they are sans balls. The House Staff wouldn't ALLOW someone who would "tell it like it is" to get the national air time. The first thought of the staff that put this together was to "prevent disaster". And one single CEO with balls would have been that disaster.

ALSO, keep in mind that we have the once respected Republican Gov. Charlie Crist bending over for Barak here in FLA. Are we all whores? Is no one with honor left standing?

So conservatives are DEFEND... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

So conservatives are DEFENDING bank CEOs whose failing banks go hat in hand to DC for help, while they are simultaneously raking in obscene paychecks.
Anybody here work for a living? If you fail to meet your goals at work, do you get a bonus? If your company loses money, do the VPs write themselves $1M rewards?
As for the "competition for talented individuals that occurs in the private sector," I say, WHAT TALENTED INDIVIDUALS? These losers who take taxpayer money because they ran their banks into the ground? I wouldn't hire 'em to run a JiffyLube.

What did America do to dese... (Below threshold)
twolaneflash:

What did America do to deserve this? Normalized every sort of deviant behaviour, destroyed the institution of marriage, financed the murder of millions of innocent preborn humans.... That's just a short list, but it gets us over half-way to hell.

Bank executives who screwed... (Below threshold)
hermie:

Bank executives who screwed up should be called on the carpet, by their stockholders and banking examiners, not by hypocrites like Frank.

Frank had both financial and personal conflicts of interest regarding Fannie Mae, which should have disqualified him from any committees responsible for its oversight.

BTW, I wouldn't have given these guys one penny until there was a massive house cleaning, and both FDIC and Fed execs responsible for watching these banks were called on the carpet for their obvious failure to do their jobs.

Ahem.Languag... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Ahem.

Language, sir.

We are supposed to be a family-safe website, hmm?

Bruce,Just so I un... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

Bruce,

Just so I understand the rules of the game, any criticism of Barney Frank spending 28 years - ten of them quite literally - in bed with Fannie Mae is a de facto defense of bank CEO's?

Although in their defense, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee repeatedly assured us Fannie and Freddie posed no risk (often using partisan rhetoric...) anytime Bush tried to push for reform.

As for the gay cracks...lighten up, Francis. Frankly (get it?), the lowest common denominator is too good for an asshole like Barney.

Bruce -There's a c... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Bruce -

There's a considerable middle ground between -phobic and -philic. If Frank gave preference to Fannie Mae due to a sexual relationship with one of the executives, I don't care if the executive was male, female, hermaphroditic, or a purple-spotted aardvark/penguin cross in a tux. Such a relationship would have had Democrats howling for a Republican removal - and rightly so.

Granted, Mr Lawson, point t... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Granted, Mr Lawson, point taken. But beginning a post with "I would have slapped the dick out of his mouth" is, umm, a leeetle bit homohatin', know what I'm sayin'? But, yeah, I'll lighten up. I just said it to needle the Baron a little.
BTW, Baron, I don't know if you noticed, but Frank wasn't the only Congressman pissed off yesterday.
Also, according to Mr Lawson, not only did Frank repeatedly reassure us that there was no problem with the GSEs, but that Frank held absolute veto power over any and all attempts by the unanimous Republicans at reform. Or something.

When an undereducated actor... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

When an undereducated actor commands 20 million dollars to work for three months with no risk and only the risk is with the shareholders, it is fine with the left. ww

Bruce - you can't rewrite h... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Bruce - you can't rewrite history. What happened, happened.

Everybody keeps telling me ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Everybody keeps telling me I'm rewriting history around here! I frankly expected more from you, Mr Lawson, than an echo of Wet Willie.
Who is the person on this page who keeps insisting that the ranking minority member of the House Banking Committee was single-handedly able to thwart the oh-so-serious GOP reform attempts?
Who is the person who asserted so confidently that "the Democrats controlled Fannie and Freddie for the last 8 years?"
Who is the person who asserted that "nothing was done about Social Security" in the Reagan years because "a Republican would have gotten the credit," despite the fact that something very fundamental WAS done, and a Republican DID get most of the credit?
I'm asking you a very serious question, Mr Lawson. Since you seem to believe that "history shows" that Frank was so powerful, why don't the ranking Republicans on each committee simply veto, as "history shows" Frank did, the President's program?

None of what I wrote above ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

None of what I wrote above should be construed as a defense of Barney Frank, BTW. I would simply like Mr Lawson to answer the question I've been asking him for days.

Next comes the part where I... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Next comes the part where I'm a "self-hater" who suffers from "BDS," and a big fat "Obamatron."

Frank's constituents appare... (Below threshold)

Frank's constituents apparently have no shame.
http://tinyurl.com/dhmnva

And again, Bruce - you are ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

And again, Bruce - you are ignoring what happened. It's clear, it's evident, and I'm really rather puzzled why you're unwilling to believe what was reported at the time.

Let's see. Republicans say... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Let's see. Republicans say Fannie and Freddie need oversight. Frank says it doesn't. The proposal gets dropped. Repeat several times.

Okay, Bruce - what am I missing here?

Not at all, Mr Lawson.<br /... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Not at all, Mr Lawson.
I've repeatedly stipulated that reform was needed, that Bush proposed reforms, and that Frank opposed said reforms.
What I've asked you for is an assessment of how Frank could have blocked any and all attempts by the GOP to reform the GSEs. Granted, he was ranking minority member of the committee from 2003-2007, but the Republicans were in the majority. Why couldn't they over-ride Frank's objections?
The answer is one you don't want to hear, I'm afraid. It was because they didn't have enough REPUBLICAN votes either.
I've also asked you to defend your statement that "the Democrats controlled Fannie and Freddie for the last 8 years." The answer to that one should be easy: "I was wrong about that, but my larger point is still valid," would do nicely.
Go ahead. Say it. You'll feel better.

Hang tough, Bruce.... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:

Hang tough, Bruce.

Feel free to jump in any ti... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Feel free to jump in any time, Mr Noble.

As you wish."I was... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

As you wish.

"I was wrong about that, but my larger point is still valid,"

Oh, and "It was because the... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Oh, and "It was because they didn't have enough REPUBLICAN votes either."

Sorry about that.

Thank you, Mr Lawson. You'r... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Thank you, Mr Lawson. You're a mensch. (And before Wee Willie casts a negative vote, that's a compliment.)

And why didn't they have en... (Below threshold)
Tim:

And why didn't they have enough Republican votes? Simple - it's fear. Any time someone dared mention reform, they were shouted down as racists. Why, how could they be so mean as to deny loans to minorities? Why would those closet Klansmen ensure that only lily-white Americans have access to the American dream? Are you saying, sir, that you ARE IN FAVOR of redlining? It's easier to just drop it than have to defend yourself from such attacks.

'E pur si muove':)... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

'E pur si muove'

:)

But yet George W Bush had t... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

But yet George W Bush had the courage to at least propose reform, just not the will (even in 2003, the height of his popularity) to get it done by the members of his party.
So maybe it was a CYA move. Propose legislation, make no real effort to get it passed, and then have cover when the whole thing turns to crap.
Naah, that doesn't sound like Bush. snort.

There were a few other thin... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

There were a few other things going on at the time that were sucking up political capital, Bruce.

Sometimes you have to set priorities - deal with the immediate fire and then try to head off others down the line. But I'm sure Obama will have a plan to deal with it... someday.

In other words, Mr Lawson, ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

In other words, Mr Lawson, "Nobody could have foreseen," the levees would break, terrorists would use airliners as missiles, etc. This is one instance, unlike the others, that I agree with you on.




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