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Frank Attacks N.J. Republican Garrett

Republicans have been trying to pin the failure of Fannie and Freddie on Democrats, perhaps as a way of trying to bolster the presidential bid of Sen. John McCain (D-Ariz.), who has touted his early warnings of Fannie and Freddie problems years ago.

"The Democrats who control Congress have refused to delve into these issues in a serious manner because they’re afraid of political fallout," Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House GOP leader, said in a statement today in calling for a Justice Department investigation into Fannie and Freddie.

Whatever the reason, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) just tried to pile on and got his hat handed to him by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), during a hearing on the future of financial regulation in Frank's House Financial Services committee.

Indeed, it looked like Garrett had given Frank the opening he'd been waiting for for a long time. Frank had documents.

Garrett said he had proposed a number of amendments to legislation that he said would have helped prevent the Fannie/Freddie meltdown only to have them defeated by the Democrats.

Frank pounced.

"Yes, the gentleman from New Jersey offered amendment after amendment -- in his head," Frank said, employing his customary biting sarcasm. "This is a serial violator writing on the mirror, 'Stop me before I don't legislate again.' "

Frank was just getting warmed up, pointing out that Garrett's amendments were soundly defeated by Republicans and Democrats.

"I know it is a bad feeling not to get your own party with you," he said. "Sometimes, [your amendments] were defeated by only 60 percent of Republicans."

Because of protocol, Garrett had to sit silently and absorb punishment. For a time, he sat with his head down and hands folded, like a scolded child sitting in a chair in the corner.

"This fantasy that Democrats stopped [Fannie and Freddie reform] is simply untrue," Frank said, waving documents and reading off vote tallies by party. "This has been a bipartisan effort that has repudiated all of the gentleman's efforts."

Frank noted that Garrett had withdrawn one of his amendments that Frank said he would oppose.

"I had not thought that the gentleman from New Jersey to be a man of such delicacy," Frank said.

After Frank finished, Garrett tried to speak, but Frank noted: "My time has expired," and tapped his gavel.

The attack was so withering that Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the committee, felt compelled several minutes later to come to Garrett's defense.

"Had the majority of members followed his lead, we would have avoided some of the problems we have today," Bachus said.

-- Frank Ahrens

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Usually when the truth comes out, it is a bit more complicated than traditional Republican logic would allow one to believe.

When is the truth about McCain's support of early efforts for a surge in Iraq going to come out? I have heard that even McCain didn't even think that such a plan would work.

Yes, when Congress is concerned, there is usually more than meets the eye.

Posted by: EarlC | October 21, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

That is so beautiful.

Posted by: Liz | October 21, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Go Barney Frank- GO!!!! :)

Posted by: Ashley | October 21, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't Fannie/Freddie that caused the most damage, it was the private lenders. FM/FM losses totaled $114B, Private Lenders totaled $56B, hence the $700B bailout. Due to de-regulation crafted by Phil Gramm, the Private Lenders were able to cause their damage. What's happening now is just the Treaury being looted before leaving. And that's the REPUBLICANS

Posted by: jime | October 21, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

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