Monday, March 29, 2010

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Barney Frank

Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg News

Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has played an integral role in the government's efforts to rescue the housing and financial markets in the face of a global economic crisis.

Mr. Frank took over the committee chairmanship after the midterm elections of 2006, at a time when millions of Americans were buying homes with little money down and using subprime mortgages. As the number of foreclosures began to soar in 2007, Mr. Frank drafted legislation to curtail predatory lending practices and to help distressed homeowners.

As the crisis deepened in 2008, Mr. Frank called for tougher and broader regulation of the financial system, and worked with the Bush administration in the summer to provide aid to homeowners at risk of foreclosure. He emerged as an unlikely bridge between his party's liberal base and the free-market conservatives in the administration, particularly Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.

With banks continuing to tighten lending and squeeze the economy, Mr. Frank took a more prominent role. On Sept. 18, Mr. Paulson asked for emergency legislation to set up a $700 billion program to buy up mortgage-backed securities whose value had dropped sharply or had become impossible to sell. Mr. Frank helped draft tentative legislation within days, adding limits on executive pay and other changes.

The initial House vote ended in rejection, with opposition from members in both parties. Days later, with stock markets plunging, a much sweetened deal passed the Senate and then the House.

Mr. Frank has earned a reputation during his 28 years in Congress as a sharp-tongued and quick-witted debater, an astute deal maker and one of the most colorful and quotable figures in Congress.

In 1987, he became the first member of Congress to voluntarily acknowledge he was gay. Mr. Frank's political career appeared doomed in 1989 after a newspaper reported that he had hired a male prostitute as a sexual companion and later as a household employee and that the man had used the congressman's Capitol Hill apartment to run a prostitution business. Mr. Frank admitted a relationship but denied knowledge of the prostitution ring. After an 11-month investigation by a House ethics panel, Mr. Frank was reprimanded for improperly using his office, but a Republican-led effort to censure him and expel him from Congress failed.

Mr. Frank was born and raised in Bayonne, N.J. He has degrees from Harvard and Harvard Law School, and after working on Kevin White's mayoral campaign in Boston he ran successfully for the Massachusetts Legislature. He was elected to Congress in 1980. (Oct. 9, 2008)

Highlights From the Archives

From Rep. Frank, a To-Do List for Changing Wall Street

Lawmakers are considering sweeping changes to the Depression-era securities laws and regulatory agencies that failed to prevent the economic downturn.

March 26, 2009businessQuestion
A Liberal Wit Builds Bridges to the G.O.P.
A Liberal Wit Builds Bridges to the G.O.P.

Barney Frank, the rumpled, cantankerous Massachusetts Democrat, has emerged as a key deal-maker in the House.

May 13, 2008washingtonNews
Bill Allowing Mortgage Lawsuits Expected to Stir Fierce Opposition
Bill Allowing Mortgage Lawsuits Expected to Stir Fierce Opposition

The bill is part of a measure aimed at curbing what some consumer advocates say are deceptive lending practices aimed at people with low incomes or poor credit histories.

October 23, 2007businessNews
National Desk
A Witty Debater Emerges as Point Man

With a political style that frequently seems more suited to an opposition backbencher in the British Parliament, Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, has earned a reputation during his 14 years in Congress as a sharp-tongued and quick-witted debater, an astute deal maker and one of the most colorful and quotable figures in the Congress.

January 6, 1995usBiography
Magazine Desk
And Then There Was Frank

"He's left me out!" Representative Barney Frank said with a frown one recent morning in Washington. "Can you believe this? Oliver North writes up a list of the 25 most dangerous liberals in Washington and he leaves me out!"

February 4, 1996magazineBiography


Newest First | Oldest First
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Another Long March in the Name of Change

For some Democrats, the road to a health care bill recalled the civil rights marches of the 1960s.

March 22, 2010
Autonomy of Consumer Watchdog Is in Dispute

In creating an agency to protect consumers from deceptive financial practices, the biggest hurdle for Congress and the White house is figuring out how independent it should be.

March 6, 2010
Chairman in House Proposes Replacing Freddie and Fannie

Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, called Friday for a new system to provide money for home loans.

January 23, 2010
Nonfiction Chronicle

A history of Playboy, a biography of Barney Frank, a memoir of Jack Kerouac and a collection of essays from David Hajdu.

January 17, 2010
House Approves Tougher Rules on Wall Street

A regulatory overhaul meant to address what supporters call underlying causes of the financial crisis has yet to pass the Senate.

December 12, 2009
Democrats Defend Bill to Rein In Wall Street

They said their legislation would protect consumers in their dealings with financial institutions while holding executives rather than taxpayers accountable.

December 11, 2009
Board to Propose More Flexible Accounting Rules for Banks

Facing political pressure to abandon “fair value” accounting for banks, the chairman of the board that sets American accounting standards will call for new rules.

December 8, 2009
Under Attack, Fed Chief Studies Politics

As the Federal Reserve has come under scrutiny, Ben S. Bernanke, its chairman, is nurturing political ties.

November 11, 2009
Another Misstep on the Road to Reform

The current proposal for regulating too-big-to-fail firms is flawed and does not fulfill the mandates for transparency and accountability.

October 31, 2009
Vote Backs a Financial Oversight Body

A House committee cleared the way for an agency that would monitor consumer lenders for abuse.

October 23, 2009


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