Barney Frank on Health Care, Tax Reform, and Bill O'Reilly

October 23, 2017

Former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank joins us to talk about the biggest political headlines. The Democrat joins us from Duke University, where he's preparing a big speech called, "The Fight for a Fair Society: Is Pragmatism a Betrayal?"

Frank gives us his opinions on Trump's upcoming Fed Chief appointment. He'd like Trump to keep Janet Yellen at the central bank, but he's most concerned about getting an appointment that would undermine all the regulation that's currently in place.

He also sounds off on Bill O'Reilly's $32 million settlement with longtime Fox News colleague Lis Wiehl, which the former anchor says he paid to protect his children. Frank's reaction? "He's full of crap, he's a lying hypocrite."

Frank also talks about tax reform, health care, and why he thinks the media has been hard on President Trump.


Baker Machado: The Senate passed its $4 trillion budget bill on Friday,

Baker Machado: which is pretty much paving the way for a vote for tax reform

Baker Machado: later this year that pretty much could decide the fate of the Republican Party.

Baker Machado: Now our next guest served in Congress for 32 years,

Baker Machado: representing Massachusetts's fourth district.

Baker Machado: And we caught up with Mr. Barney Frank who's at Duke University

Baker Machado: preparing for a big speech on the fight of a fair society.

Baker Machado: And this is what he had to say. Take a look.

J.D. Durkin: Congressman Frank, what are you hoping to accomplish with your upcoming speech, sir?

Barney Frank: Basically, to avoid a situation in which there is a fracture of,

Barney Frank: of our effort to go forward with genuine improvement by frankly a set of

Barney Frank: unrealistic litmus tests being imposed by

Barney Frank: some of the people very much on the left and the rest of the Democrats.

Barney Frank: By the way, on those substantive issues I

Barney Frank: almost always agree with those I'm talking about on the left.

Barney Frank: And I think it is very important for people on the left to say as Bernie Sanders did

Barney Frank: last year to push the agenda for the left.

Barney Frank: I'm a supporter of single payer.

Barney Frank: I, I Would like to cut the military [inaudible 00:01:09] get very many of my colleagues to agree with.

Barney Frank: I am all in favor of that kind of advocacy.

Barney Frank: The problem is when the advocacy turns into a litmus test.

Barney Frank: When it is not simply,

Barney Frank: we want you to go in this direction and we'll support you if you do.

Barney Frank: But a demand that you go in that direction and embrace the full agenda,

Barney Frank: even if you happen to be in a district where that can't necessarily win.

Barney Frank: There are a number of districts in America where the kind of

Barney Frank: full agenda of those of us who are on the left will win,

Barney Frank: but that's not enough for a majority.

Barney Frank: Particularly since, and this is something I think people have to understand.

Barney Frank: We're in a difficult situation now.

Barney Frank: There is in the country on the whole,

Barney Frank: including some on the left and many on the right,

Barney Frank: a view that government's no good,

Barney Frank: a disbelief in government.

Barney Frank: One of the things we have to do is to build back

Barney Frank: an understanding that government properly run can be very useful.

Barney Frank: But until you get that,

Barney Frank: demanding that people be fully supportive of a very active role for

Barney Frank: government right away without getting into a more gradually is a mistake.

Barney Frank: So I'm basically anti-litmus test.

Barney Frank: I am anti-impugning other people's motives,

Barney Frank: and that's why I say it's a betrayal.

Barney Frank: If I have people who are in

Barney Frank: a marginal district and are committed to doing most of what I want to do,

Barney Frank: but don't feel they can go all the way,

Barney Frank: I don't want them to be attacked as being immoral.

Barney Frank: And in particular, and this is one of the things that I

Barney Frank: take away from the years when we were in power,

Barney Frank: when Democrats are pushed,

Barney Frank: for example, in health care for as much as we could get.

Barney Frank: I wanted a public option.

Barney Frank: I wanted to expand Medicare.

Barney Frank: We didn't have the votes for it.

Barney Frank: So we agreed to do the best we could,

Barney Frank: which I think was good, an improvement.

Barney Frank: I don't agree with people who say,

Barney Frank: oh not bad, we're disappointed,

Barney Frank: even not that what we think you misjudged

Barney Frank: it but the rhetoric becomes you betrayed us, you sold us out.

Baker Machado: Uh, Barney, it's always great to have you on the show.

Baker Machado: You know, the economy has been doing exceedingly well since the election,

Baker Machado: we're now over 23,000 on the Dow.

Baker Machado: President Trump says he's going to nominate

Baker Machado: a new Federal Reserve chairman here very soon.

Baker Machado: So, do you think it's almost imperative based upon how well the economy is doing

Baker Machado: the President Trump needs to re-nominate Janet Yellen to the Federal Reserve chairman.

Barney Frank: I would like him to do that and, you know,

Barney Frank: Trump has been, this is not in the area of news,

Barney Frank: he's been totally inconsistent.

Barney Frank: He was for a while attacking the Fed

Barney Frank: because he said they were keeping interest rates too low,

Barney Frank: to help the Obama administration.

Barney Frank: Now that he's president and wants to see economic progress continue,

Barney Frank: and by the way what we're seeing with the economy,

Barney Frank: there has been an upward tick in the stock market.

Barney Frank: But the trend in unemployment is essentially a continuation of the trend under Obama.

Barney Frank: Growth is a continuation of the trend.

Barney Frank: There's been no drastic uptick under,

Barney Frank: under Trump except because of the stock market,

Barney Frank: maybe because they think it's going to be more deregulation.

Barney Frank: Unfortunately, there's going to be in the financial area.

Barney Frank: So I would like him to keep Janet Yellen.

Barney Frank: There are other people who could be helpful.

Barney Frank: There are people who I think would cause a serious problem.

Barney Frank: I know John Kellogg,

Barney Frank: I worked with him when he was in the Treasury.

Barney Frank: I think his rigid formula would be a terrible idea.

Barney Frank: And in some ways I think it's almost saving Trump from himself

Barney Frank: because I think if he were to appoint Mr. Taylor there would be a problem.

J.D. Durkin: Congressman, I'm curious from your perspective,

J.D. Durkin: why do you think we've seen investors respond so positively to a Trump presidency,

J.D. Durkin: and do you think we'd see the same overall market cap gains

J.D. Durkin: had Secretary Clinton won the election last November.

Barney Frank: Very similar. I think there was a little bit of a [FOREIGN] over regulation.

Barney Frank: And the other one though is in taxes.

Barney Frank: There is a, to the extent that

Barney Frank: they think there's going to be a very substantial reduction in the corporate tax rate.

Barney Frank: That I think is why it's been [inaudible 00:05:16].

Barney Frank: But remember, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped in

Barney Frank: March 2009 as a result of the crisis that had happened under President Bush to 6500.

Barney Frank: By the time Obama went out of office it had already tripled.

Barney Frank: So the increase has been greater under Trump,

Barney Frank: but the trend was already there.

Barney Frank: So I think you were getting a little extra bump because of Trump,

Barney Frank: because of these expectations.

Barney Frank: But I don't think any qualitative and certainly

Barney Frank: the other economic statistics there has not been that much of a change.

Barney Frank: So I would think it's to some extent people in

Barney Frank: the market who are looking for a very substantial drop in the tax,

Barney Frank: the corporate tax rate and a diminution of regulation,

Barney Frank: that may be it.

Barney Frank: The one thing of course you don't understand is that

Barney Frank: the stock market is not the whole economy.

Barney Frank: And great increases and gains for the stock market,

Barney Frank: on the whole is very good for the richest people,

Barney Frank: does not do much for the great bulk of the people.

Baker Machado: Barney, I will switch gears to somebody you've had conversations with on cable news.

Baker Machado: Bill O'Reilly was reported over the weekend from the New York Times that he's

Baker Machado: settled a sexual harassment allegations suit with somebody for $32 million.

Baker Machado: That's a record it seems over at Fox News.

Baker Machado: He's claiming it's a smear campaign against him.

Baker Machado: What is your take on the latest O'Reilly settlement.

Baker Machado: At $32 million, Barney.

Baker Machado: That's a lot of money.

Barney Frank: Well, it shows that he's just full of crap.

Barney Frank: That he is a lying hypocrite.

Barney Frank: The notion that you would pay out

Barney Frank: $32 million just so your children wouldn't be embarrassed, which is what he said.

Barney Frank: The notion that you would give $32 million to people who are falsely accusing you is

Barney Frank: beyond the kind of inaccuracy that he usually pervade.

Barney Frank: It makes no sense whatsoever. And by the way, can I add here.

Barney Frank: There is this narrative now on the part of the right that all the left is being

Barney Frank: hypocritical because it's Harvey Weinstein versus Bill O'Reilly.

Barney Frank: Well, by the way, the same liberal journal newspaper took the lead on both of them.

Barney Frank: The New York Times did it to Bill O'Reilly

Barney Frank: and they did it to Harvey Weinstein or The New Yorker.

Barney Frank: So I do not understand where we get this notion that,

Barney Frank: oh the left wing was protecting Harvey Weinstein.

Barney Frank: In fact, both the New York Times and New Yorker too fairly identified as on

Barney Frank: the left publications did the job on

Barney Frank: Weinstein that no right wing journal ever did or right wing outlet when ever did it.

Barney Frank: And by the way as far as Fox News is concerned,

Barney Frank: after O'Reilly obviously admitted guilt to terrible abuse of people, $32 million worth.

Barney Frank: $32 million worth is a lot of groping.

Barney Frank: Obviously goes beyond that.

Barney Frank: Right after that Fox gave him a big fat contract.

Barney Frank: So again, this, this,

Barney Frank: uh, effort by the right wing to claim hypocrisy,

Barney Frank: no, uh, it was the left that exposed O'Reilly,

Barney Frank: the left media that exposed Harvey Weinstein.

J.D. Durkin: Uh, Congressman, while we have you here, uh,

J.D. Durkin: I want to switch gears real quick and talk about

J.D. Durkin: a former Democratic president Jimmy Carter said recently quote,

J.D. Durkin: "I think the media have been harder on President Trump than any other president."

J.D. Durkin: Do you think that, uh, Jimmy Carter there is right with his assertion, Congressman?

Barney Frank: Yes, he's right.

Barney Frank: But that's because that's the reality.

Barney Frank: Donald Trump has been more outrageous than any other president.

Barney Frank: That's like saying that

Barney Frank: the law enforcement system works harder on a man who committed

Barney Frank: a crime and sent to prison than the people

Barney Frank: who didn't commit a crime and weren't sent to prison.

Barney Frank: The question is not simply is the media being hard on Donald Trump,

Barney Frank: but is that an accurate description?

Barney Frank: Yes. If you look at what they've written about Donald Trump and said about Donald Trump,

Barney Frank: it's very tough, but it's an accurate reality of what he's been doing.

Barney Frank: By the way, the media was softer on him during the campaign.

Barney Frank: They gave him more attention,

Barney Frank: and they treated him almost like a harmless clown.

Barney Frank: So, yeah, the accurate reporting of Donald Trump's incoherence,

Barney Frank: inconsistencies, hypocrisies, outburst, incivilities.

Barney Frank: Yes, it must be very hard for Trump fans to read that.

Barney Frank: By the way, I have now become a reader of The Wall Street Journal, uh, editorials.

Barney Frank: They've always had a reasonably good, uh, news thing.

Barney Frank: The Wall Street Journal, it's become very critical of Donald Trump.

Barney Frank: Let me put it this way to Jimmy Carter.

Barney Frank: Go back and look at the presidencies and The Wall Street Journal

Barney Frank: has been as hard on Donald Trump in some ways as they were on previous Democrats.

Barney Frank: One day last week they had three editorials critical of him.

Barney Frank: So yes, the media is harder on Donald Trump

Barney Frank: than the previous presidents because Donald Trump is so much worse by

Barney Frank: any measure of what a president should be doing

Barney Frank: that accurate reporting of him comes out more unfavorable than of any other president.

Baker Machado: His speech tomorrow night at Duke University is,

Baker Machado: The Fight for a Fair Society: Is pragmatism a betrayal?

Baker Machado: Uh, former Congressman Barney Frank, always such a pleasure.

Baker Machado: Thank you so much for joining us.

Baker Machado: Okay, guys, that was our conversation with former Congressman.