House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank appeared as a guest on the September 24 "Lou Dobbs Tonight". Just minutes before interviewing the Massachusetts Democrat, Dobbs featured a report from CNN correspondent Louise Schiavone on political contributions made by mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Schiavone stated Frank has received more than $42,000. His party's standard bearer, Barack Obama, has gotten over $126,000.
Yet Dobbs didn't even question Frank about taking those contributions from two of the major institutions involved in the present financial crisis. Or perhaps he could have asked Frank about what he told the New York Times in 2003:
"These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''
Moreover, he could have asked Frank if his relationship with the former director of housing initiatives for Fannie Mae, a man Barney considered his lover, had anything to do with the congressman's view that everything was hunky-dory over there.
Dobbs could have inquired what specific oversight Frank, who has been either the ranking Democrat or the chairman of the financial services committee for several years, and his committee had exercised over financial institutions. According to its Web site, Frank's committee "oversees all components of the nation's housing and financial services sectors including banking, insurance, real estate, public and assisted housing, and securities." How's that working out for you, Barney?
Rather than getting some substantive responses from Frank, Dobbs was satisfied with asking process questions about how the bailout package is developing. He also gave Frank a platform to parrot a few Democratic talking points:
DOBBS: What you're basically talking about, the Republicans are going to get this administration is going to get a bailout of Wall Street. The Democrats are going to get a new deal. And the result is going to be what? A nationalized --
FRANK: No. Nothing nationalized. The ownership we're going to take is going to have no voting rights. I don't think it's Wall Street -- here is the problem, a lack of regulation going back to Ronald Reagan allowed the private sector to make the mistakes that put us in this situation.
DOBBS: May I point out that the President Jimmy Carter is the one who started deregulation in 1978. The partisan thing doesn't work for me.
FRANK: I'm not being partisan. If you'd stop interrupting me -- he never said it was the problem. He never said government is dumb and markets are smart. I'm sorry, Lou. We're not going to have a serious conversation. Jimmy Carter is very different from Ronald Reagan. He moved for regulations in two specific industries, but we're talking about not about whether or not you lack regulation or if you have no regulation. And Carter never regulated the financial markets.
All in all, a pretty disappointing performance from Dobbs. Is he worried Barney and friends won't appear on his program if he questions why they've ignored, or in some instances aggravated, the problems leading to the current financial mess?