President Obama lavished praise on House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank as he prepared Wednesday to sign the sweeping financial services regulatory reform legislation that the Massachusetts Democrat and Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, framed and then moved toward passage over the course of a year.The president declared himself "profoundly grateful" to Frank—and Dodd—for having "worked day and night to bring about reform."
Frank deserved the kudos. Even those of us who have been critical of the final form the legislation took—and who disagree with the president’s claims that this bill necessarily prevents future bailouts of big banks and Wall Street—recognize that the congressman took on an incredibly daunting task, managed huge amounts of data, balanced conflicting assessments and ultimately beat back some serious special interests on some meaningful issues. Indeed, survivors of the all-night conference committee session that hashed out the final compromise will attest to Frank’s remarkable skills.
So everyone, from the president to the policy analysts on all sides of this financial regulation fight, is impressed with Frank as a savvy legislative leader, a nimble number cruncher and a visionary policy-maker.
Well, if Obama and Franks other fans really want to celebrate the congressman’s contribution to the economic discourse, perhaps they should start listening to what he is saying about how to balance the federal budget.
Frank wants to cut $1 trillion in unnecessary—let’s be blunt: wasteful—spending over the next decade.
How so? By hacking away at excessive Pentagon spending.
A crazy notion?
Republican Ron Paul doesn’t think so.
The libertarian-conservative congressman from Texas is Frank’s partner in this project.
This unlikely pairing has led the fight to get the federal deficit reduction commission to, in Frank’s words, focus on the fact that “unless there is a substantial reduction in American military expenditures over a ten-year period close to if not slightly over a trillion dollars over what’s proposed—that is at $100 billion a year—you simply cannot deal with deficit reduction in a way that is economically and socially responsible.”
Frank—working with Paul, North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones and Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden—put together a remarkable left-right coalition of budget and defense-policy analysts in a “Sustainable Defense Task Force” that included everyone from the Center for American Progress’s Larry Korb, Peace Action’s Paul Martin and the Institute for Policy Studies’s Miriam Pemberton to Laura Peterson of Taxpayers for Common Sense and Christopher Preble, the director of foreign policy studies for the libertarian Cato Institute.
Based on the task force’s recommendations, Frank and Paul are making the rounds of the blogosphere, cable television and talk radio to propose Pentagon cutbacks. As such, they have become the most recognizable, and politically potent, proponents of a serious approach to deficit reduction.