Openly gay Congressman dismisses claims from Republican, Independent challengers who blamed him for economic woes
WELLESLEY, Mass. — Democratic U.S. Rep. Barney Frank on Sunday, Oct. 26 fended off attacks from two challengers who tried to tie him to the national financial crisis and criticized a $700 billion federal bailout package he backed.
Frank dismissed as "bizarre" accusations by Republican challenger Earl Sholley of Norfolk that the Newton Democrat allegedly was the chief architect of the mortgage meltdown because of housing initiatives he supported.
The other challenger, Independent Susan Allen of Brookline, claimed that Frank "allowed this game to be played and investors — among them Mr. Frank’s buddies — snapped up investments like hotcakes."
Frank, however, said the financial crisis brewed while Republicans controlled Congress and he was in the minority between 1995 to 2006. He has been chairman of the House Financial Services Committee since 2007.
During the 11/2-hour debate at Wellesley College, the candidates also jousted over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the national budget, health care and same-sex marriage.
The financial crisis, however, dominated the debate, and each candidate offered views on not only the bailout but also on what should be done about the current multibillion-dollar deficit.
Sholley argued for an overall decrease in spending, the elimination of the Department of Education and stepping up efforts to achieve energy independence. He did not support the bailout that Congress passed and said he would have preferred a taxpayer bailout and a suspension of the capital-gains tax.
Allen called for liquidating the Federal Reserve and putting U.S. currency on the silver standard.
Frank said he would cut military spending, make cutbacks in agricultural subsidies, increase tax rates on the wealthy to levels seen in the 1990s, reduce spending on manned space travel that is of little scientific value and pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.
"I would begin by pulling out of that miserable, mistaken war in Iraq," he said, describing the conflict as "the greatest single mistake in American foreign policy."
Frank said he agrees with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that U.S. should have invested more military resources to win the war in Afghanistan, not Iraq.
Allen, however, supported the immediate withdrawal of American troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Sholley said the U.S. should be able to pull out most troops within two years.
The candidates also sparred on social issues, notably same-sex marriage. Allen supports such unions while Sholley, an outspoken social conservative, said that judges shouldn’t make such decisions.
Frank, an openly gay member of Congress, said that gay marriages have no effect upon those who choose not to enter into them.