Barney Frank spills it

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank told CNBC today that House-Senate negotiations on the financial regulation bill had to be completed by today because President Obama wanted to take the bill to the G20 and tell the other nations in attendance that they should adopt the same rules.

This is eerily similar to the story we heard when the House was pressured to pass the climate change “cap-and-trade” bill. President Obama was on his way to some international climate conference — Copenhagen, wasn’t it? — and wanted to show other nations that the United States was putting these new rules in place and they should do the same.

Leadership, he calls it.

But a closer look reveals that the president isn’t leading, he’s pleading.

He’s pleading with other countries not to offer U.S. businesses and capital an alternative to the strangulation he is attempting to impose on the United States.

The premise of the cap-and-trade bill is that putting “a price on carbon” will “incentivize” businesses to switch to greener forms of energy. In some gauzy future utopia, wishing will make it so. Until then, higher energy prices will be a crippling burden to businesses and consumers.

In order to prevent burdened companies from leaving the U.S. and taking a better offer, the president pleaded with India and China and other nations to put a price on carbon themselves. Ha, ha, he wanted to tell U.S. businesses. Nowhere to go. You must stay, you must pay.

It didn’t work, of course. The climate talks collapsed without an international agreement. The half-finished U.S. climate bill (the Senate refused to take it up) did not persuade China, India and other nations to put restrictions on their own energy use and economic development.

Now, according to Barney Frank, the president wants to take the still-not-passed financial regulation bill to the G-20 Summit in Toronto and tell the other nations that they should adopt the same rules for themselves. We don’t even have to know what’s in the bill to see what the president fears: that Americans who don’t like it will move their money and their business to London or Dubai.

And that’s why, Barney Frank said clearly today on CNBC, there’s a provision in the bill that says any nation that holds itself out as a “haven” will be “frozen out” of the U.S. financial system.

That’s what he said.

If this bill passes, the U.S. will treat countries that offer lower taxes and less regulation as if they were certified terrorist states.

Here’s the full quotation:

“The fact is that the president was very eager for us to get this bill done by yesterday in the form it was because he’s taking it to the G-20, and there is a great deal of coordination going on. I have never spent as much time in all my years in Congress dealing with international leaders, the European Union, the Canadian Finance Minister, the British. I believe you are going to see a coordinated march towards greater regulation, unlike a few years ago when there was a race to the bottom on the part of some, and they got burned. So, no, I think you are going to see America being welcomed as a leader here, and very similar restrictions are going to be applied internationally, and we have one thing in our bill that’s very important. If as we get this movement towards a coordinated set of regulations any particular nation tries to hold itself out as a haven, that nation is mandated by this bill to be frozen out from the American financial system. And I don’t think many will want to risk that.”

Any questions?

CNBC host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera had one. “You guys have been so productive in the last seventeen months,” she fawned, “you’ve managed to do the economic recovery act, you did health care reform, you modified a lot of the educational system and educational funding, now you’re here on the verge of passing financial regulatory reform, and yet at the same time, Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the United States, they’ve got very low approval ratings of the president of the United States and also of Congress. Why is it that you’ve been so productive on the legislative front, certainly by any historical norm, and yet the American public doesn’t seem all that impressed by it all?”

Can you guess the answer?

Did you guess that it’s the media’s fault? Or did you guess that George W. Bush has left field so screwed up, nobody can play it?

You’re right!

Here’s Chairman Frank’s complete response to the question:

“Well, part of it is, I would revert to the fact that, to the media. Bad news is a better story than good news. Secondly, the depth of the recession that Barack Obama inherited from George Bush was greater than I think many people, including myself and certainly the president, realized. Unemployment is still unappealingly, impossibly high, and pains people. The fact is that what we’ve done legislatively, and what the Fed has done with the president’s support, we have alleviated the misery. Things aren’t as bad as they could have been. But the public doesn’t pay off on ‘less bad than they could have been.’ So the objective conditions are still bad, and it’s taking longer than it should to get out of this recession, partly because it was so deep and because so much damage had been done. I think that’s a major reason for the anger.”

That’s not the way the Business Roundtable sees it. On Monday the Obama-friendly group of executives gave White House Budget Director Peter Orszag a 54-page report titled “Policy Burdens Inhibiting Economic Growth.” It lists all the government policies, plans and initiatives that are defeating “the objectives we all share,” like lowering the unemployment rate, improving the competitiveness of U.S. companies, and fostering long-term economic growth.

The next day, Orszag announced that he’s leaving the administration.

That’s pretty funny when you consider that “stay and suffer” is the president’s policy for everybody else.

Copyright 2010

Susan Shelley posted at 2010-6-25 Category: Uncategorized