Maxine Waters gave her first interview (paid subscritption required) since assuming the chair of the House Financial Services Committee and spilled the beans on who she intends to model her behavior as chair person: Barney ("I Love You, You Love Me") Frank.
Waters contends that she's up to the challenge, saying she learned a lot from watching the Massachusetts Democrat work and plans to follow in his footsteps — including defending the financial reform bill that bears his name.
"Barney Frank has led us to understand that which we have to fight for," said Waters. "The basic idea of Dodd-Frank and what it will do for the financial services industry and the consumers of this country is what we really have to stand up for."
Barney "has led us to understand that which we have to fight for." Grammatically awkward, no? That which we have to fight for is apparently 2300 pages of goo.
Barney has taught Maxine more than the critical importance of the monstrosity legislation that bears (part of) his name. He's also taught her that unlike a good burger, the sausage made by Congress is not discovered at any old In-N-Out.
"You have to put in a lot of time. You're going to have to read, you're going to have to listen. It becomes a real part of your life. It's not like many issues of Congress where you can get in and out."
Yes, unlike most issues, where members of Congress phone it in and sort of understand a little bit about the surface portion of a sound bite of issues of critical importance to the future of this nation, on banking matters, you've got to pay attention for at least five minutes at a stretch before you start thinking about sex. It takes some time for Congress to screw up the banking business as badly as bankers screw it up, so you've got to pay your dues. Apparently, up to now, Maxine, as merely one member of the committee but not its chair, has been doing her nails and reading Marvel comics instead of reading and listening. From here on in, that's all going to have to wait until the 9:45 am coffee break.
Sure, Maxine might have started off a little behind the curve.
Waters acknowledges that she joined the committee with "not a lot of knowledge," except what she had picked up in the state legislature, where she led efforts to divest state pension funds from companies doing business in South Africa.
Yeah, that subject might not have been the best primer for banking law. Nevertheless, she's learned a thing or two since her rookie year. Like how to derail an ethics investigation into your alleged pressuring of federal regulators to give some TARP to a bank in which your husband owns stock. In addition, she learned the hard way about the difference between "socializing" and "nationalizing" in the course of threatening oil company executives who had the temerity to point out that prices rise when demand is high and supply is limited.
You can't make this stuff up. Luckily, for the next four years, I won't have to. Rep. Waters will be the gift that keeps on giving.