AUTO BAILOUT PROPS UP PEOPLE, NOT COMPANIES, SAYS FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN BARNEY FRANK IN A "60 MINUTES" INTERVIEW SUNDAY ON CBS
Massachusetts Rep. Raps Obama and Bush on Current Lack of Leadership
Propping up ailing car companies is not what the government's bailout for Detroit's car makers is really about, says the man in the middle of the controversial plan. Barney Frank (D-Ma.), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, insists it is about the individual - saying the government needs to help the people in the car companies and other firms tied to the failing industry. The 14-term congressman from Massachusetts talks to Lesley Stahl in a
60 MINUTES interview to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 14 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"No. We're not propping up companies. That's your mistake," he tells Stahl, who had asked him about taxpayer money going to prop up companies that had made bad decisions. "We're propping up individuals. The world doesn't consist of companies. The world is people. The country is people."
When Stahl points out that Frank is then talking about welfare, he responds, "Yeah, I'm for welfare. You're not? Are you for letting people starve?" Click here for an excerpt.
Some argued that bankruptcy was the way for Detroit to work out its troubles and reformulate their businesses. Frank is against that as well because it also hurts the individual. "There's only one thing you can do in bankruptcy: break your word, break your deals," says Frank. "It allows you to say to the small businesses who have been catering lunches for you...the workers, 'Sorry, we're not paying you,'" he tells Stahl.
Frank is frustrated by a lack of leadership on the financial crisis that he says is caused by the transition period between the election of Barack Obama and the end of President Bush's lame duck term, when Obama actually assumes office. "Part of the problem now is that this presidential transition has come at the very worst possible time. We saw it coming. I don't know if there was any way to avoid it. You know... Senator Obama has said, 'We only have one President at a time.' Well, that overstates the number of presidents we have at this time. We don't appear to have any," he tells Stahl.
Frank also discusses his disappointments with the bailout for the financial industry, his long career in the House, and how it was affected by his coming out as a gay man 20 years ago.