Retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Sunday that the Troubled Asset Relief Program was his toughest moment as a lawmaker in his more than three decades in the House.
“Secretary Hank Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and said look, America is on the verge of a collapse, and you have got to help us. One, that is an awful responsibility to have, and it was then putting together the TARP, which I think will go down in history as the most highly successful, highly unpopular program in American history,” Frank said on CBS’ Capitol Gains of the Bush administration move in 2008.
“But that period of the stakes were very high, that we could have serious long-lasting economic damage, and we had to get people to do what most politicians knew was not going to be good for them. That was tough.”
Frank said the TARP experience explains “what happened to bipartisanship.”
“And what happened to bipartisanship is Barack Obama won, and the Republicans moved to the right, and they did not extend to Barack Obama the cooperation we Democrats gave to George Bush,” he said. “…And when the votes came, [the Bush administration] got much more support from the Democrats than the Republicans. The Republicans kind of waffled out on them.”
The congressman also said Wall Street should warm up to Dodd-Frank regulations.
“I think the financial community made a very grave error in this last campaign in their own interest. They got angry at us because we did financial reform and because the president hurt their feelings. He said that they should pay more taxes and that they weren’t always doing the best thing,” he said.
As far as the incoming Financial Services Committee Chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Frank called him “a throwback to the days of irresponsibility.”
“I’ve never agreed with him on an issue. He is a very decent, reasonable guy. From time to time, he would be sitting in the minority leader chair when I was there. We always were able to work very well together, but he is very, very far to the right, and I don’t think sustainable,” Frank said. “…He is a decent man. He’s an honorable man, he’s pleasant to work with. And I think quite extreme.”
Not only is he bowing out of Congress, but isn’t interested in a job in an administration Obama’s second term, either.
“My energy level isn’t what it was. I got married in July, late. I was 72 when I got married. I am very much in love with Jim,” Frank said. “I want to write. I think the time has come. I want to still contribute to the public policy debate, but in a somewhat different way now.”