Mr. Frank, who used an antineatness slogan in his first federal campaign 27 years ago, has a lacerating wit. His support for predatory-lending reforms, minimum wage increases, and universal health care mark him as one of the most left-leaning lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Cox rarely appears in public with a hair out of place or a wrinkle in his perfectly tailored suits. He speaks with deliberation and labors to defuse criticism. Mr. Cox cut his teeth in the Reagan White House, and his votes in Congress earned him an 87% lifetime rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before he became chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The rest of America will be talking about Nancy Pelosi’s rise and Donald Rumsfeld’s fall today. But we’re kind of bored by all that already. Besides the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives has important implications for something we actually do care about—finance.
Meet Barney Frank, the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He’s thought to be a pretty bright guy. He’s openly gay. He’s been in Congress for as long as anyone can remember. There was some sort of sex scandal years ago but it’s not like he strangled his mistress or anything.
So what can we expect from Barney?
• He’s a friend of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and an opponent of those who want to reform those institutions with portfolio limits.
• He’s a friend of internet gambling, and argued quite forcibly against recent legislation against it.
• He makes most activist hedge fund managers seem like pussycats when it comes to outsized executive pay.
• We probably won’t see much Sarbanes-Oxley reform coming out of his committee. He’s said before that he doesn’t think there needs to be any broad legislative changes, although he’s hinted he’s open to changes at the regulatory level.
• A push to regulate hedge funds is now a lot more likely.
• He’s a free trader.
• He’s a fan of plans to make America more open to immigration.
Wall Street’s not exactly panicking about Frank’s turn in the chairman’s seat. His long years of experience on the Financial Services Committee have made him pretty familiar with the ways of Wall Street, so it’s not like some barbarian crashed the gates.
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