Pollak: Barney Frank Returns, 14 Years After Our Battle at Harvard

Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) is on the heart of one other monetary disaster — this time on the board of now-defunct Signature Financial institution, which was closed by New York State and brought over by federal authorities on Sunday.

Satirically, given his normal zeal for regulation, and the Dodd-Frank legislation that bears his identify, Frank has pushed again towards claims that regulatory easing brought about the panic that took down Signature and Silicon Valley Financial institution.

As an alternative, Frank blamed authorities hostility to the cryptocurrency business, which his financial institution had supported. And as a board member, he had as soon as argued that smaller banks must be exempt from the laws he created.

Regardless of the purpose, it’s onerous to disregard Frank’s curious presence on the scene of one more oversight failure that might take down your complete monetary system.

In 2008, because the monetary disaster unfolded, Frank chaired the Home Monetary Providers Committee. The meltdown occurred on his watch — after he and fellow Democrats had zealously resisted efforts to control Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, resulting in the subprime mortgage disaster.

In April 2009, Frank — nonetheless accountable for the committee, and tasked with writing new laws to control the nation’s giant monetary establishments — got here to Harvard’s Kennedy Faculty of Authorities to provide a speech.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the Home Monetary Providers Committee, addresses an viewers on the John F. Kennedy Faculty of Authorities, on the campus of Harvard College, in Cambridge, Mass., Monday, April 6, 2009. (AP Photograph/Steven Senne)

It was a night that may change my life.

My fiancée and I had been each about to graduate — she from school with a level in economics, and me from legislation faculty. Neither of us had jobs but, thanks partially to the recession.

We determined to go to the lecture out of easy curiosity. I occurred to have been finding out tax legislation in my remaining semester, and I had deliberate to ask a query in regards to the constitutionality of a tax on Wall Avenue bonuses.

However as I stood in line behind the microphone, ready my flip, I grew to become astonished at Frank’s method to the disaster, which he sought responsible squarely on Republicans, all the best way again to President Taft a century earlier than.

So when my flip got here, I requested: “How much responsibility, if any, do you have for the financial crisis?”

He blew up at me.

Harvard student takes on Rep. Barney Frank on Economy

However I had additionally simply taken a trial advocacy course, and had realized deal with a hostile witness.

So I requested the query once more.

We went back-and-forth for a number of minutes, a lot to the viewers’s delight, after which I went residence. I assumed the change would possibly benefit a point out within the Harvard Crimson, however nothing extra.

Because it occurred, there was a digicam from the native Fox affiliate within the room. They aired the argument, and it was picked up by the Drudge Report.

Instantly, I used to be well-known — and everybody, even MSNBC, needed an interview.

Trying again, I believe what resonated with individuals was the concept a pupil — no person, actually — may stand as much as some of the highly effective members of Congress.

You must keep in mind the political environment of the time: Barack Obama had simply taken workplace, and there was a brand new and stifling sense of political correctness. A brand new elite felt entitled to dictate phrases to everybody.

This was the time when Miss California, Carrie Prejean, misplaced her title as a result of she defended states’ prerogatives to outline their very own marriage legal guidelines — the identical place as Obama.

After being on the mercy of highly effective individuals for months — first the titans of Wall Avenue, then the massive photographs of the Beltway — many individuals, even Democrats, loved watching an enormous ego being punctured by a easy query. I even acquired a congratulatory e mail from Professor Laurence Tribe, who thought the entire thing was nice.

For 48 hours — till I went offline for the Jewish vacation of Passover — my life was a whirlwind. After I got here again to campus, the dean’s workplace requested me to select up my fan mail.

Then the Illinois Republican Occasion referred to as.

The GOP needed to run candidates in as many districts as attainable, and so they had been in search of a candidate to problem Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), my hometown consultant.

It was a troublesome resolution. I had already determined to take the California Bar examination. And loads of individuals advised me to problem Frank, although I assumed (wrongly) that he was invincible, as the primary brazenly homosexual member of Congress. However ultimately, I made a decision to provide it a strive.

It was an uphill climb towards an entrenched Democrat incumbent in a deep-blue district. But conservatives got here out of the woodwork to assist me.

And I befriended conservative media pioneer Andrew Breitbart.

After the election, I pitched Andrew on the concept of becoming a member of his startup firm. He finally agreed, and I moved out to L.A.

I labored alongside Andrew — by way of Weinergate and the remainder of it — till he died in 2012.

I’m nonetheless right here (and Schakowsky remains to be in Congress). However Barney Frank someway discovered his strategy to a financial institution. The person who was imagined to have protected us from one other monetary meltdown is once more on the heart of 1.

As soon as once more, it’s not his fault. He’s most likely proper that the Trump-era rollback of Dodd-Frank laws — which was backed by members of each events in Congress — didn’t result in the present banking disaster.

The likelier trigger, as Silicon Valley investor David Sacks defined in an in depth Twitter thread, was merely poor administration, as rates of interest rose quickly to battle inflation that was set off by President Joe Biden’s spending.

I’d add that Frank’s assurances in 2009 that new laws would shield the system could have inspired reckless conduct by banks and their clients.

To not fear: Biden says new laws will probably be even higher.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Giant at Breitbart Information and the host of Breitbart Information Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He’s the writer of the brand new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He’s additionally the writer of the current e-book, Neither Free nor Honest: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He’s a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Observe him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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