Amnesia Defense

Republicans trying to lecture Rep. Barney Frank about which party is more to blame for the crisis were reminded last week that the House Financial Services Committee chairman has a mean counterpunch.In response to another claim — by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., on the House floor — that Frank helped stall legislation before 2007 to rein in the government-sponsored enterprises and subprime lending, the Massachusetts Democrat issued a 16-paragraph rant, entitled "Frank Seeks Antidote to Republican Amnesia."

The rebuttal said the GOP — not Democrats — controlled Congress when the legislation at issue was debated.

"Being accused of having blocked legislation to prohibit irresponsible lending to low-income people from 1995 to 2006 is flattering in a bizarre way. Apparently, those Republicans parroting these right-wing talking points believe that I had some heretofore undisclosed power" over Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay, the House speaker and majority leader for much of that period, "which allowed me to keep them from passing legislation they wanted to pass," Frank said. "If that had been true, I would have used that power to block the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the House, the war in Iraq, large tax cuts for the very wealthy, the intrusion into the sad case of Terri Schiavo and appropriations bills that badly underfunded important social priorities."

Frank, who in 2007 was a primary sponsor of the first subprime lending reform bill to pass the House, said he never tried to block the legislation. "I did not try to stop" Republicans "from passing legislation to control subprime lending or to regulate" the GSEs "because in the first case" the GOP was "never willing to do so."

Also, even though he worked with then-Financial Services Chairman Mike Oxley on a GSE bill, "the bill was defeated because, in the words of Mr. Oxley, the Bush administration gave his efforts 'the one-finger salute.' "

The GOP's claims are "cynical, partisan politics which will weaken our ability to prevent another meltdown in the future," Frank said. "These attacks may seem innocuous, but in the long run they will hurt ordinary Americans who are already suffering."

Follow the Script

James Dimon, the chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., is known as one of Wall Street's more improvisational speakers, often giving off-the-cuff speeches rather than preparing remarks.That is largely how he delivered a speech last week to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He looked down at notes occasionally, but mostly he spoke without a script.

Until he arrived at the part about regulation.

"I'm … going to talk about regulatory lapses and mistakes very, very carefully, because you know we are heavily regulated," he said. "So let me read this thing."

With the audience chuckling, he read from a text: "We do not blame the regulators for what happened. Blame should always go to the specific CEO of the company for their actions. Just because the regulator lets you do something does not mean you should have done it."

Geithner's Corps

With the Treasury Department facing a gargantuan workload these days — including the need to fill nearly every top position — Secretary Timothy Geithner probably appreciated the note of encouragement he received last week from Sen. Lindsey Graham.At a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Thursday, the South Carolina Republican compared the Treasury to the Marine Corps, and he suggested that Geithner use a military slogan to attract candidates.

"This is not easy, and you don't have your team in place," Graham told the secretary. "If you're looking for a way to serve the country, join the Marines or go to Treasury. I think they're both very difficult. … 'The few, the proud, the brave, the Treasury people.' "

Geithner said he would prefer to revise the slogan to draw less attention to his small staff. "We just don't want to say, 'the few,' " he said. "We want to say, 'The many and the proud and the brave.' "

Jones' New Job

Chuck Jones, who was the staff director of the Senate Banking subcommittee on economic policy under Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., has left Capitol Hill for a lobbying position at Timmons & Co. Inc.Jones will lobby on a range of issues, including financial services. Before working on the Hill, he spent six years at the Federal Housing Finance Board as a special assistant to Director Allan Mendelowitz.

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