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POLITICS

Sanitizing Barney Frank, Part II: Banker cash

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Barney Frank, former chairman of the Financial Services Committee, was very cozy with the financial sector for a very long time. This should serve as indictment of legislative record. For the New York Times' leading Frank sanitizer, David Firestone, however, the Frank-Bank friendship is a sign of Frank's "moderation."

Firestone blogs at the NYT, "economically, Mr. Frank is essentially a centrist." Firestone's evidence, point by point:

  •  Frank "talks often of the need for a 'grand bargain' between business and liberals." This has a name. It's called corporatism. Call it corporate socialism, or corporate welfare. It's also not a crazy idea, when you consider that business PACs are as likely to favor Democrats as Republicans. The way liberals and business form a grand bargain is by scrapping the free market in exchange for regulations that protect incumbents and subsidies to help pay for the regulations. Say, Dodd-Frank + TARP. 
  • "He worked with Republicans on housing policy and on the bailout of the banks." Republicans wanted housing subsidies out of some ill-conceived notion of an "ownership society," and because banks and realtors liked them. Democrats like Frank wanted housing subsidies to increase government's control over the economy, and because banks and realtors liked them. And the bailouts? That was the pinnacle of Big-Business-Big Government collusion. This is the New York Times' model of a praiseworthy "centrist," finding corporate welfare that ends up with both parties pocketing special interest loot.
  • "Nearly a third of the $13.1 million he raised since 1989 came from the financial, insurance, and real estate industries." In fact, the Center for Responsive Politics reports "In every election cycle since 2004 the securities and investment industry has ranked as Frank's top industry backer." Again, this is revealing about Firestone and the Times. A liberal being funded primarily by the people you're subsidizing and regulating qualifies you as a "centrist" only if you see industry money as inherently "conservative." And if this is your mindset after the bailouts, then there's probably no helping you.

Every Republican who is fairly senior on banking committees takes in tons of Wall Street money, which is scornworthy. When Frank does it, though, it makes him another vaunted moderate.

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