Congressman Barney Frank

Barney Frank was elected to the U.S House of Representatives in 1980 after seving in the Massachusetts state legislature for eight years. He is a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Banking and Financial Services Committee.

Recent Articles

Lessons for Democrats

The most important lesson to be learned by Democrats from recent events in both the real and political worlds is that economic growth alone is not enough. Expansion of gross domestic product is a good thing, but 4 percent annual growth does not guarantee that Americans will see significant improvement in their own economic positions; and eroding real wages in the midst of a growing economy translates into an important political fact as well. Economically, politically, and most importantly morally, Democrats should insist on public policies that not only promote economic growth but also work against the current trends in which nearly all of that increase is concentrated in the hands of a few. The Democratic Leadership Council has argued against focusing on distribution issues, preferring policies that promote growth in a technologically oriented economy. Those of us on the other side have agreed that pro-growth policies are necessary, but that they are insufficient for improving the...

Thanks, But No Thanks

In the September issue of the Prospect , Robert Reich offers several Democrats, myself specifically included, some entirely gratuitous advice. Not having spoken with me – nor, I think, with my colleagues -- Mr. Reich lectures me that I must “resist (the) temptation” to spend most of my time in a series of shrill, wholly negative attacks on the Bush administration. Among the temptations I am urged to resist is to do a “job…on the Administrations nefarious links to Wall Street.” And he follows the sentence regarding me with the sarcastic question, “Hell, why not try to impeach Bush?” Unfortunately, in his effort to impart wisdom to us, he adds fuel to the wholly unjustified fire that the Republicans have been trying to ignite in the hopes of keeping us from winning a majority. I know of virtually no support for trying to impeach President Bush among House Democrats, because we understand that this would be entirely counterproductive to what we are trying to accomplish both politically...

Repeal Bush's Tax Cut:

O ne of the impressive feats of intellectual tenacity in recent times is the Republicans' ability to sustain their faith in large tax cuts for the wealthy despite repeated battering from reality. When George W. Bush first proposed this early in 2000, his justification was that our economy was so strong that it was producing far more revenue than we needed. A year later, as Congress was considering his proposal, the president's rationale did a 180-degree turn: Now it was the very weakness of the economy that demanded a tax cut, so that the wealthy would be encouraged to engage in more of the economic activity that was to be our means of avoiding recession. During all of that time, Bush was as fervent as anyone else in subscribing to the view that revenues derived from the payroll tax should go only to Social Security and not be used for other purposes--until it became clear that he could not have both his tax cut and this commitment, whereupon the commitment began to crumble. The...

Taps for Caps

One problem the Republican leadership faces in boasting about the accomplishments of the 1999 congressional session is that one of them was the repudiation of the primary "success" they were trumpeting proudly in 1997. That was the year the Republican Congress passed—and lamentably got Bill Clinton to sign—the wildly misnamed Balanced Budget Act. It was wildly misnamed on two counts. First, the budget was in fact already coming into balance, thanks to the tax increase signed by George Bush in 1990, the tax increase on wealthy people proposed by Bill Clinton and passed entirely by Democrats in 1993, and the great surge in revenues that has resulted from the solid growth in the American economy--a growth that refuted Republican predictions in 1993 that the tax increase would plunge us into recession. Second, the most significant actual reduction in expenditures the 1997 act accomplished--a drastic, cruel, and ultimately unsustainable cut in...

Trigger Happy

T he Communist Manifesto exults over the "specter haunting Europe"--the growth of communism. Today, America's ability to grow in a socially equitable manner confronts a serious threat from another economic theory, one that shares with Marx's construct its devotees' loyalty in the face of strong contradictory evidence. This danger can be even more appropriately labeled a specter because, unlike Marx's hope that his newborn would grow rapidly, we are menaced by the revivification of a theory from a recent inglorious demise. I refer to the return of the NAIRU . The concept known as the "nonaccelerating inflation rate of unemployment," or NAIRU, holds that there is a point below which unemployment cannot fall without triggering economy-destroying inflation. Well into the 1990s, the theory was widely supported by mainstream economists, whose consensus pegged the NAIRU threshold at roughly 6 percent. Should unemployment fall below that magic number,...

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