Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) has often been called “the smartest guy in Congress.” That he is very intelligent is clear — but his actions show that simple brainpower is rarely an indicator of wisdom.
Congressman Frank, it should be recalled, was one of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s staunchest defenders, shielding them from scrutiny and oversight right up until they collapsed. And at that point he had the audacity to blame their failure not on those who had enabled the misconduct, but on those who had tried — and failed, thanks to Frank and his allies — to rein those bodies in.
Well, Frank is back to his old games. He’s leaning on Fannie and Freddie to ease restrictions on new condominium mortgages. The two had recently announced changes to their rules on when they would guarantee mortgages on condominium complexes showing signs of financial trouble. Frank wants them to assume greater risk and shift the exposure from developers and buyers onto the federal government.
Stop me if you’ve heard that line of argument before.
And recently, as part of its bankruptcy reorganization, GM announced that it was closing facilities around the nation. This was somewhat buried amid a flurry of larger developments, such as the demise of entire brand lines and the shuttering of dealerships, but still held some significance to a lot of people — including 80 people in a to-be-closed GM parts distribution center in Norton, Massachusetts. More specifically, 80 constituents of Congressman Barney Frank.
Frank immediately leaned on GM (at that point firmly in the hands of the federal government) to spare the Norton plant and its 80 jobs (which, apparently, hasn’t hired anyone new since the mid-1980’s). The GM execs, with this new calculus (“one of our new CEOs likes this plant”), reconsidered and realized that it does make sense to keep this warehouse open for at least another year.
As noted, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more intelligent member of Congress. It takes a tremendous intellect to be so colossally, consistently wrong — and cause such harm.