How desperate has Barney Frank become in his quest to hold onto his seat in a Republican hurricane? So desperate that Frank seems to have trouble seeing his own hypocrisy. Jammie Wearing Fool finds this juxtaposition in the Boston Herald rather amusing:
Bielat has $364,000 in his campaign war chest to Frank’s $1 million, but the embattled congressman said he made the campaign loan to counter an expected flood of “attack ads.”
“I do not intend to be ambushed by the kind of right-wing smears that assailed John Kerry in 2004,” Frank said.
And so he expects to answer them with … left-wing smears about the Tea Party:
Frank — outraised by $70,000 by opponent Sean Bielat in September — pumped $200,000 from his personal retirement account into his campaign to thwart what he calls right-wing attacks from “bigoted” Tea Partiers.
Definition of “bigot” in Frank’s world: anyone who votes against him.
The problem for Frank isn’t that people are smearing him. Criticism of Frank hits much closer to the truth, which is that Frank was one of the prime engineers of the government interventions over the last 12 years that created the bubble and subsequent collapse in subprime lending. He and Chris Dodd pushed hard for the social engineering that exploited Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and accused anyone who warned about the potential for catastrophe of hating the poor whom Frank wanted to put into home ownership.
Jeff Jacoby slammed Frank yesterday for his sudden spin on his track record:
Frank also goes too far in vehemently denying any connection to Fannie and Freddie’s failure, or to the risky mortgage lending that caused so much damage. He portrays himself now as a lifelong advocate for affordable rental housing only. To hear him tell it, it was never a part of his agenda to make it easier for low-income homebuyers to get mortgages. Indeed, he says, he always fought the idea.
As far back as 1991, the Globe reported that Frank lobbied Fannie Mae to ease its rules restricting mortgages on two- and three-family homes, even though the default rate on those mortgages was far higher than the rate for single-family dwellings. Was that being a “consistent critic’’ of low-income home ownership? How about when he gave a speech in 2005 praising the “advocacy groups that work with us so that we can make homeownership available to people who might not on their own in a market situation be able to afford it’’?
“Low-income home ownership has been a mistake, and I have been a consistent critic of it,’’ Frank claimed during a debate with Bielat on WRKO.
Over the years, Frank has been a consistent critic of many things (defense spending, Republicans, free enterprise), but an opponent of programs to assist low-income homeowners? The congressman who in 2003 blasted Bush administration efforts to reform Fannie/Freddie on the grounds that “the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing’’? The one who saluted Fannie Mae in 2004 for backing mortgages with as little as 5 percent down on factory-built “trailer’’ houses, and chided the mediafor not showing enough interest in what he called “an essential part of any program to increase home ownership in America’’?
Frank isn’t being smeared, and the accusation of so-called “Swift boating” is patently ridiculous, even without the almost-concurrent painting of his political opponents as “bigots.” Frank has a long record of using Fannie and Freddie to conduct social engineering, and it turned into a worldwide economic disaster. Frank is trying to run away from that record, and his problem is that his opponents won’t let him.