Barney Frank, Massachusetts US House representative and the chairman of the House Finance Committee, emphasized the importance of increasing financial regulation to prevent future economic crises in a speech at the Institute of Politics last night.
“Deregulators had their way, and the situation today is their consequence,” Frank said. “[And] they blame the victims.”
In a 30-minute speech entitled “Blaming the Victims: The Last Stand of the Deregulators,” he accused anti-regulation Republicans of purposefully misplacing blame for the economic recession.
The speech—in front of a full house at the IOP—was unabashedly partisan, and Frank set that tone in the first few minutes of the speech when he said jokingly that “when Obama talked about post-partisanship, I got post-partisan depression.”
With many jokes between his policy suggestions, Frank outlined four primary goals for combating the recession: a ban on full securitization of loans, a reduction of incentives for risk in corporate governance, the creation of “wind-down institutions” for helping failed companies effectively close down and the establishment of federal agencies for evaluating “systemic risk.”
“These are pro-market rules that make it safe to invest,” he said.
Alex W. Palmer ’12 said he was impressed by Frank’s demeanor.
“I thought the speech was great,” Palmer said. “He was a lot funnier than I expected.”
Although Frank was met with resounding applause at the conclusion of his talk, there were several tense moments during questioning, such as when a Harvard Law School student asked Frank if he felt any responsibility for the crisis as Chairman of the Finance Committee.
“Republicans had the majority from 1995 to 2006,” Frank replied. “What do you think I should have done?”
Eva Z. Lam ’10, President of the Harvard College Democrats, called the speech “awesome.”
“I really enjoyed his stylistic level and his willingness to engage with people who may not have agreed with him,” she said.
In contrast, Hunter S. Gaylor ’12, an audience member who identified himself as a conservative, said that he did not agree with much of Barney’s speech.
[SEE CORRECTION BELOW]
“It was a typical Barney Frank speech,” he said, “He wrote this bill that paid these companies, with no strings attached. He’s a smart guy, but obviously far left.”
The April 7 news article "Mass. Rep. Calls for Financial Regulation" incorrectly identified Hunter S. Gaylor as a freshman at Harvard College. In fact, he is a Harvard Extension School student.