December 5, 2011

I confess: I'm gonna miss Barney Frank -- Like a migraine headache!

Good ole Barney, the marble-mouth magician of Massachusetts and the first openly gay member of Congress, is also notorious for the financial fiasco of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Frank, being the ranking member and one-time chair of the House Financal Services Committee opened the door to force banks to give mortgages to all people, regardless of how big the risks and how low their credit may be. All in the name of fairness!

Now, he's leaving the hallowed hall of the House, mostly due to his district becoming more "moderate" as a result of manditory redistricting. He won't tell us that, but given the fact that he got the scare of his life in the 2010 election, he doesn't see a real way he can pull it off again.

While there has been some talk about scratching Maxine Waters as the replacement for Barney Frank on the HFS Committee, by the look of the googly eyes Democrats are making at each other, don’t count on Dems to do the decent thing. The decent thing would be have "Go-to-Hell" Maxine step aside for a less ethically challenged liberal- you know, if there are any.

As Ezra Klein pointed out in his WonkBlog, however, the top contender to push Waters aside and replace Frank, Democrat Rep. Caroline Maloney, is waging something of an equivocal insurgency that likely depends more upon the results of the ethics investigation into Waters’ banking relationships than any outward campaign that Maloney can mount.

And that probably suits everyone just fine.

Look for Maxine to continue to lobby for the top Democrat spot on the finance committee; look for Maloney to wait in the background for the ethics charges to undo Maxine; and look for the GOP to keep the ethics investigation alive enough to embarrass the Democrats, but not quite alive enough to do Maxine in, just yet.

“As the next most senior member of the committee, the current ranking member on the Capital Markets Subcommittee and the former chairwoman of the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee, I hope to use my experience to continue and expand his work in the committee,” said Waters in a statement on Frank’s retirement as reported in Politico. “I will continue to champion practical regulations, while making sure they work for consumers and the financial sector, a sector which has the right to be profitable but the obligation to be fair, two concepts which are not mutually exclusive.”

Those aren’t her only qualifications, either.

Her husband sat on the board and had stock in minority-owned OneUnited Bank, which has the distinction of being one of the few banks to ask the US Treasury for a bailout and not getting it...initially. But then on second thought, after the Maxine Brigade got to work, the Treasury finally coughed up $12 million.  

Waters set up a meeting with then-secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson, and the CEO of OneUnited Bank CEO, along with her grandson, who also acts as her chief of staff when he’s not advising the secretary of the Treasury on banking matters.

Banking talent runs deep in the Waters family.

But perhaps the biggest gift to Republicans will be that Waters was and still is a huge fan of Fannie Mae.

Human Events ranks Maxine’s defense of Fannie as number five in the top ten most outrageous statements Waters has ever made:

As a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, Waters played a key role in allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s reckless actions that led to the housing meltdown.  Here is Waters, at a 2004 congressional hearing, (and yes, that is the same “Frank” Raines that vastly overstated Fannie Mae’s earnings in order to receive $90 million in bonuses).  “We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Frank Raines.”

Going forward, they may want to rethink that ranking. And so should the GOP.

Maxine Waters should be the poster child for the NRCC in 2012.

Her constituents adore her even though she is so far-left they think she is an angel. We should count on the Democrats to keep Waters in the lead position for the same reason. And if the Dems ever recover the majority in the House, with Maxine in Barney's place, God help us, cause she'll send us to hell.

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