June 15th, 2011

Rep. Barney Frank goes after 2012 GOP contenders

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer spoke with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) about two of  the 2012 GOP contenders. A highlight from the interview is after the jump and a full transcript of the interview is posted at CNN.com.

Please credit all usage of the interview to CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

EMBEDDABLE VIDEO: Rep. Frank ‘disappointed’ in Obama

Highlight from Interview

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: At the Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire the other night, Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker, a man you know, he said this about legislation that you co-sponsored.  Let me play the clip.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The Obama administration is an anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-American energy, destructive force.  And we shouldn’t talk about what we do in 2013.  The Congress, this year, this next week, ought to repeal the Dodd/Frank bill, they ought to repeal the Sarbanes/Oxley bill.  They ought to start creating jobs right now, because for those 13 million Americans, this is a depression now.


BLITZER:  All right.  Go ahead and respond to the former Speaker.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Well, Mr. Gingrich would forget that under his leadership, we totally deregulated all sorts of financial activity.  We had the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, rivaling it if we hadn’t taken steps, because we had total deregulation.

And here’s what he’s talking about.  Do not have an independent consumer bureau, let the Federal Reserve be in charge of consumer protection.  Do not do anything about speculation.  The position Mr. Gingrich is advocating — we put legislation on the books last year to be used this year to say that speculators cannot go up and buy oil futures, hold it off the market until the price goes up, and then sell it.

We want to put an end to the speculative impact on oil prices, which many believe is at least $20 a barrel.  He wants to undo this.

He wants to go back to exactly what happened that caused the terrible crisis.  So the notion that by trying to restrain derivatives, trying to restrain mortgages that shouldn’t have been granted — part of this bill says you can’t get a mortgage if you are not going conceivably going to be able to pay it back.  What Mr. Gingrich apparently says is that those policies that led to this terrible economic crisis were OK and let’s go back to it.  And he’s apparently defending the rights of the large financial institutions, the banks and investment houses, to do whatever they want as long as they make money, regardless of the negative consequences on the economy.

BLITZER:  One final political question, Congressman, before I let you go.  It involves Mitt Romney, arguably the Republican front-runner right now for the Republican presidential nomination.

Back in June, 2007, you told New England cable news this about your former governor: “The real Romney is clearly an extraordinarily ambitious man with no perceivable political principle whatsoever.  He is the most intellectually dishonest human being in the history of politics.”

Do you remember saying that?

FRANK:  I do.  And he’s confirmed it since.

But I have a little sympathy for him.  Apparently, he has spent so much of his money, that he can no longer afford ties.  Poor Mitt has not been seen in a tie in several months.  So I am going to take up a collection to buy some ties for Mr. Romney.

And he’s cut all his ties to his past policies, but I would like to see if we could get him a tie to put around his neck, because he’s going around without any tie.  He kind of looks a little bit underdressed.

BLITZER:  I’ll take that as you stand by those earlier comments.

FRANK:  Oh, there’s no question.  No, he has made it worse.  He’s flip-flopped even more.

This is a man who in 1994, said he would be a better gay rights advocate than Ted Kennedy, a total reversal.  He’s flipped on abortion.  He’s been back and forth on the question of a health care mandate.

I cannot think of a public policy — the only consistent principle of Mitt Romney is he thinks he should run the world.