Barney Frank: Don’t Blame Me For GSE Mess

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee and co-author of the Dodd-Frank Act, has used an interview with New York magazine to absolve himself of blame for the collapse of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs).

When asked if he was wrong about his 2003 comment that the GSEs were ‘not facing any kind of financial crisis,’ Frank insisted that his remark should not be used to suggest he was at fault for the GSEs' downfall.

‘I was wrong in 2003, but I wasn't in charge,’ he said. ‘This is the most intellectually dishonest argument from Republicans. Remember, I was in the minority from 1995 to 2006. They were in charge. Their argument appears to be that I stopped [House Speaker] Tom Delay from doing something. But this is all on their watch.

‘Now, in 2005,’ he continued, ‘I tried to work with [Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee] Mike Oxley to get some reform. It became an internal Republican fight. Oxley said the problem was that George Bush gave him the one-finger salute, and that's what killed it. I became chairman of the committee in 2007. The first thing we did was pass tough legislation restricting Fannie and Freddie. It's as a result of that legislation that they were put into a conservatorship and haven't lost any money [on new business] since 2008.’

Frank charged that the Republican leadership of the House Financial Services Committee accomplished very little since assuming power with the 112th Congress in January 2011.

‘They have not even moved a bill to a full committee decision,’ he said. ‘They talk about Fannie and Freddie when they're out of power. When they're in power, they do nothing.’

Frank also complained about the lack of bipartisan cooperation in Congress and used Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., as an example of the problems in reaching across the aisle.

‘People ask me, 'Why don't you guys get together?'’ Frank said. ‘And I say, 'Exactly how much would you expect me to cooperate with Michele Bachmann?' And they say, 'Are you saying they're all Michele Bachmann?' And my answer is no, they're not all Michele Bachmann. Half of them are Michele Bachmann. The other half are afraid of losing a primary to Michele Bachmann. So, no, there are maybe three Republicans I can work with, on a couple of issues, out of the thirty-something on the committee.’


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