November 17, 2013

Barney Frank: Dick Cheney lied about more than Iraqi WMDs

As it turns out, 2003 was a very bad year for any claim by him.

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Cheney repeats here a central, wholly dishonest theme in the debate about who caused the crisis.

I had been too sanguine about Fannie Mae in 2003, but I changed my opinion by 2004. In 2005 I worked with the House Republican Chairman, Mike Oxley, to pass a bill to restrain it. What then happened was a serious dispute among Republicans. The bill the Republican House passed to restrain Fannie and Freddie died – in Oxley’s phrase because “President Bush gave me the one-finger salute.”

Not only did the Republican House fail to act on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when Democrats tried to pass legislation restraining irresponsible subprime mortgages in 2004, we were overruled by DeLay who ordered Oxley not to take up any such legislation. It was not until 2007, when I became the chairman after the Democrats took back the House, that the bills were adopted both to restrain subprime mortgages, and to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

As a final demonstration of the right wing’s total rewriting of history on the subject, when our committee did vote out a bill to restrict subprime mortgages, we were attacked in an editorial on Nov. 6, 2007, by The Wall Street Journal for interfering with the free market. In a passage they now must wish they never wrote, the editorialists strongly defended the subprime loans that were a major cause of the crisis: “But for all the demonizing, about 80 percent of even sub-prime loans are being repaid on time and another 10 percent are only 30 days behind. Most of these new homeowners are low-income families, often minorities, who would otherwise not have qualified for a mortgage. In the name of consumer protection, Mr. Frank’s legislation will ensure that far fewer of these loans are issued in the future.”

As to Cheney, I guess I should feel consoled that he simply lied about me, and did not invade my home.

Barney Frank is a retired congressman and the author of landmark legislation. He divides his time between Maine and Massachusetts.

Twitter: @BarneyFrank

— Special to the Telegram

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