August 25th, 2008
01:21 PM ET

Laying out the issues: housing and mortgages

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Editor's Note: Below is a transcript of an interview between CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Representative, Barney Frank, (D) Massachusetts on the Obama-Biden ticket and their role in the nation's economy and the housing and mortgage crisis.

O'BRIEN: Joining us to talk more about the Democrats' plan to tackle the worsening economy, one of the most influential members of Congress, Congressman Barney Frank.

Congressman Frank's been at the forefront of efforts to deal with the nation's housing and mortgage crisis.

Thanks for being with us. We certainly appreciate it, congressman.

Let's start with Joe Biden. As you just heard Christine talking sort of about how he's voted, do you think that he is a good choice on the economic front? Everybody knows him on the foreign policy front. But what about the economic front?

FRANK: Oh, absolutely. By the way, he's also one of the best in fighting crime. You know, Joe was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He helped pass a bill to put cops on the street. So he has a very good record in law enforcement, also very important issue, and it has an economic impact because part of the problem we have today is that cities and states, which have been a mainstay of the job market this year - if you look at the job market, we've lost - we're on track to lose about 1 million jobs this year under the Bush administration's economic policies. That's been somewhat offset, it would have been worse, if it weren't for local governments. But they 're eroding. Joe Biden came to their rescue and to the rescue of law enforcement in 1994 with a bill to put a lot of cops on the street.

Beyond that, yes, Joe Biden's voting record is very clear. But we have two problems in this country. One is that the economy is now slowing down. But, two, George Bush, even when the economy was growing, the growth was going to less than 5 percent of the American people. And those are statistical facts attested to by Don Evans, who was George Bush's first commerce secretary.

And so what you've got in Barack Obama and Joe Biden is an understanding that, yes, we want to go forward with growth, but not in a way that disadvantages 95 percent of the people. And the average worker in America, who works for wages for somebody else, is now worse off in real terms given inflation and given how little the dollar pay has gone up, than they were a few years ago.

O'BRIEN: So then what's the specific plan? I mean let's talk, you know, you look at the housing crisis. You drive in any town almost anywhere in America and everybody's got one of those signs up in their front yard. So much stuff is on sale or in foreclosure, it's craziness. What's the plan? Or does the Obama/Biden team have the right plan to cure that kind of a crisis?

Yes. They have been - yes, first of all, going forward, we have had this terrible problem of an excessive deregulation. We were told that there needn't be any rules, the market would do it. And specifically there was a Democratic/Republican dispute about whether or not we should put a limit on some of these subprime mortgages. And Senators Obama and Biden have been for sensible re-regulation, letting the market work, but, frankly, going back to the Franklin Roosevelt model.

Franklin Roosevelt saved the stock market with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We need to save the market from its own excesses by sensible regulation that will restore confidence. And secondly, with regard to housing, yes, we need to provide funding. One of the big differences between the parties to help build housing that's affordable for people. The Republicans totally withdrew from that. So, yes, there's a big difference there.

The other big area of difference I think has to do with healthcare. The absence of a good healthcare system, healthcare coming in a very patchwork way through your job and less and less of that, that's a terrible social and economic problem. And Senators Biden and Obama are for an increase in a comprehensive approach to healthcare, not a government-run socialized medicine operation, but an increased public sector role that's essential to going forward.

Finally, there is, as you noted, a difference on trade. John McCain has stuck to an old-fashioned and out-moded view that any trade bill is essentially good for us. And what we've learned is that trade can be helpful for the overall economy, but have a devastating impact on people in certain parts of the economy, in certain states, like Ohio, like Michigan, like Pennsylvania. And so you now have a Democrat saying, look, we will support trade if it's done within the context of policies that don't put all of the burden on 90 percent of the workers, or 80 percent of the workers, and give all the benefits to a handful.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Barney Frank laying out a lot of the issues for us today.

Thank you, congressman. Nice to see you, as always.

FRANK: You're welcome.

Filed under: Raw Politics
soundoff (3 Responses)

    i hope michelle obama will not campaign for obama, that will take away lot of votes from the democratic party.

    August 27, 2008 at 2:59 am |
  2. Annie Kate

    I worry about health care all the time. My siblings and their families don't have any and since I went on disability my children will lose theirs this December. I just hope we can find some for them that we can afford. Everyone needs to have health care and I hope if Obama wins that he will extend his health care plan to cover everyone and not just the children.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 25, 2008 at 11:44 pm |
  3. Susan

    Both Senator Joe Biden and Senator John McCain voted FOR the
    Bush- Bankrupcy/Banking Bill. This is in part what opened the door to predetory lending practices. Way to treat the little guy.


    August 25, 2008 at 10:53 pm |