Opinion

Guess who’s back?

Anyone else see the irony—or tragedy—in Rep. Barney Frank’s latest grab at national headlines?

The retiring Massachusetts lefty (is that redundant?) told New York magazine in an interview that, in hindsight, passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act might have been a mistake.

“I think we paid a terrible price for health care,” he told journalist Jason Zengerle. “I would have started with financial reform but certainly not health care.”

Frank then goes on and on about how Obama repeated Clinton’s mistake by not only misinterpreting a voter mandate, but by alienating the middle class by extending a benefit they already enjoy to millions more beneath them (on the socio-economic strata). Nice to know none of us are above a little class warfare.

Where do you even begin to dissect this? Sure, it’s easy to sit back now and say what a mess reform turned out to be, but where was Frank back then when it might’ve meant something? Oh yeah, he was in the House voting for it.

And, honestly, are we at all surprised he would’ve gone for financial reform first? He did anyway. And quite frankly (pun intended), his arguments against health reform could very well apply to the financial reform that’s so near and dear to his heart. Never mind that he’s caught here blaming his own constituents rather than a piece of poorly crafted legislation.

For four years now, I’ve argued consistently against both the bailouts and health reform. The bailouts because from day one I thought they were, if not anti-American, at the very least anti-free market. Our whole system is predicated on a risk and reward philosophy, and if you take either one away, the other means nothing.

I know a thing or two about bad timing—just ask anyone who works with me—so even though I’m no high-priced cable television pundit, I could see that maybe tackling something as fundamental as health reform in the middle of an economic meltdown might not be the smartest move.

I still don’t know how Obama (or Reid or Pelosi, for that matter) could have misread the tea leaves so badly with regard to health reform two years ago. The Dems certainly got what they deserved in the midterms. And, everything being cyclical, it turned out to be the GOP’s turn to over interpret the voter mandate.

Frank’s a smart guy and a savvy politician, and his reappearance in the news as the sun sets on his Congressional career certainly will be great for his book deal.

About the Author
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Denis Storey is editor for BenefitsPro.com and Benefits Selling magazine. He can be reached at dstorey@benefitspro.com.

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