Let Me Be Frank About Frank

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 26 2012 2:30 PM

Let Me Be Frank About Frank

Michael Levenson talks to Rep. Barney Frank and gets an earful about Obamacare. "Bad economic times are not good times to do something that makes people nervous," says Frank. Levenson chats up other Democrats with less-dark views of the reform. It all goes well until Levenson explains why this story exists.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Frank first raised his concerns in an interview published this month in New York magazine... in an interview with the Globe, Frank said that when the bill surfaced in 2009, he raised concerns about its timing with administration officials and congressional leaders, whom he declined to name. He said he is speaking publicly about his concerns now because “I was asked what I thought.’’
Advertisement

Hang on: No. This isn't true at all. Jason Zengerle's interview with Frank generated the umpteenth, not the first, quote about why the health care bill should have died on the operating table. On January 15, 2010:

If Scott Brown wins, it'll kill the health bill.
If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate healthcare bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, that approach is no longer appropriate.

The same day:

We're back to where we were maybe even years ago.

On July 21, 2011, defending his financial reform law:

My Republican colleagues, unlike [with] climate change and health care, don't want to take this one head-on, because it is still too popular.

This is a total mystery to me. Why is Frank's Obamacare-skepticism still presented as breaking news? Frank, along with Rahm Emanuel, was a leading voice for splitting the bill up. Unlike Emanuel, he'd had to face down angry voters in his own district -- he was spooked and he said so. As he gets ready to retire he's talking more like a prophet than a worrier, but it was extremely significant, in early 2010, for the liberal Financial Services chairman to talk out loud about scrapping health care.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They’re just not ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 16 2014 4:08 PM More Than Scottish Pride Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.