Editorial: Frank for Congress: Learning to be a leader

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

No one on either end of the ideological spectrum would ever question or dismiss the intellect of U.S Rep. Barney Frank.

Even those at the pointed end of some of his acerbic barbs and others who could never agree with him on the color of the sky would admit he is one of the most engaging members of Congress we’ve ever seen.

But what we have witnessed in recent years is the emergence of Frank as a leading market-side pragmatist and authority on the nation’s economy and someone who has found his sense of place and security in dealing with one-time political combatants.

The Barney Frank we see, the chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and continuing champion of individual rights, is a man who deserves to continue to represent the people of the 4th Congressional District.

You don’t have to embrace or even agree with Frank’s sexual orientation or his lifestyle to admit he has become an effective and zealous advocate for middle-class homeowners, immigrants, especially Cape Verdean and Portuguese, fishermen, and minorities in his district.

From l’enfant terrible who did not gladly suffer fools, questions or conservatives when he was first elected in 1980, Frank has grown comfortably into his own skin and his place within the congressional hierarchy, working with members on both sides of the aisle and the Republican White House to address the housing mortgage crisis and the nose-diving economy.

Despite Republican stump speech revisionism, Frank has been cautioning for years that regulation of the subprime mortgage market was needed and he has the documents to prove it. He was one of the proponents of a bipartisan effort in 2005 to reel in the problems, a measure that was defeated by since-disgraced House Majority Leader Tom Delay.

Frank worked with the Bush administration, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and House Republicans to fashion the $700 billion rescue bill and will be a leading voice two weeks after the election to pass a second $150 billion stimulus package that will include infrastructure money, tax credits and reductions for average workers and extended unemployment and food stamps. That is not tax and spend liberalism; it is wise leadership in addressing our economic woes in meaningful ways.

Closer to home he has taken over the mantle of champion for the fishing industry from the late Gerry Studds. He is pushing to ease restrictions on catch limits and is calling for more harmony between fishermen and the scientific research that so affects their livelihood. He opposes even the testing, let alone drilling, for oil in the critical Georges Bank and Stelwagen Bank.

He has visited the countries and acted as liaison with the Cape Verdean and Portuguese governments because of the large population of those immigrants in his district, similar to our region. He’s a staunch advocate for more affordable housing. And he rightfully brags about transportation earmarks such as improvements to Route 24 and handicapped accessibility for commuter rail stations along the Old Colony line.

We’ve had our share of influential members of Congress from our state, including Sen. Edward Kennedy and the late Joe Moakley and Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill. Barney Frank has begun to make his lasting mark on Capitol Hill as well and voters would do well to keep him in there as their representative.

The Patriot Ledger