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Frank Retires, Leaving Namesake Law With Uncertain Future

Rep. ""Barney Frank"":http://frank.house.gov/ (D-Massachusetts), a liberal icon on Capitol Hill and co-author of the financial reform law that bears his name, announced Monday that he will not seek reelection.


""I will not be a candidate for reelection to the House of Representatives in 2012,"" he wrote in a statement, attributing his decision to a changing electoral landscape in his home state of Massachusetts as well as in the halls of Congress.

A newly redistricted area of Massachusetts ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô formerly the district he represented for 40 years ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô adds less than half a million new constituents and straddles an area with which he is unfamiliar, according to Frank.

Calling it his obligation to reach out to new constituents and represent them in a faithful manner, he said a campaign ""would compete with two other obligations which I neither want to nor can avoid.""

He cited partisan politics as another reason for his retirement, describing the current landscape in D.C. as one ""that makes it harder to get anything done at the federal level... I now believe that there is more to be done trying to change things from outside than by working within.""

He pledged to continue his public advocacy efforts from outside the Beltway and finish his term in office.

With former Sen. ""Chris Dodd"":http://chrisdodd.com/ (D-Connecticut), who retired in 2010, Frank spearheaded the effort to roll out the Dodd-Frank Act, which critics ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô particularly those from the right ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô continue to pan as a threat to the financial services industry and economic recovery at large.

The financial reform law set the stage for a counterstrike from opponents and numerous battles on Capitol Hill over controversial stipulations related to mortgage lenders and servicers.


Critics complain that Dodd-Frank, many of the rules for which still need writing, threatens to upend the industry by flooding it with mortgage disclosure requirements, banning short-term proprietary trading by banks under the Volcker Rule, and concentrating the rulemaking authority for 18 consumer financial protection laws in the ""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB).

Speaking about his signature law, Frank wrote that he ""was ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and am ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô concerned about right-wing assaults on the financial reform bill, especially since we are now in a very critical period when the bill is in the process of implementation.""

""If there's a time to leave, now is the time,"" ""Mark Calabria"":http://www.cato.org/people/mark-calabria, director of financial regulation studies with the ""Cato Institute"":http://www.cato.org/, tells _MReport_. He says that his departure makes it more likely that Republican opponents will repeal Dodd-Frank.

He describes Frank's departure as one that may leave Democratic members of Congress with ""less allegiance"" to Dodd-Frank, which he calls the congressman's ""primary legacy.""

""Ed Mierzwinski"":http://www.uspirg.org/about-us/staff/staff/mierzwinski, consumer program director with ""USPIRG"":http://www.uspirg.org/, credits Dodd-Frank for establishing ""the landmark [CFPB] against a phalanx of opponents and its rollback of previous anti-consumer state law preemption standards... among the many important achievements in that law that can be directly attributed to Barney's leadership.

""We're glad he will be here one more year to defend them,"" he adds.

Multiple news outlets speculated that Rep. ""Maxine Waters"":http://waters.house.gov/ (D-California) is now in line to replace Frank as ranking member for the ""House Financial Services Committee"":http://financialservices.house.gov/.

Whither the sometimes controversial congressman once he retires? Frank said that he plans to write and teach in addition to his public policy advocacy.

No stranger to controversy, Frank defended his legacy at a press conference recorded by ""C-SPAN"":http://www.c-span.org/Events/Rep-Barney-Frank-Not-Running-in-2012/10737425839/ Monday, casting himself as one of the earliest members to detect trouble with subprime mortgages.

He also dogged on _The Wall Street Journal_ editorial board and ""Federal Housing Finance Agency"":http://www.fhfa.gov/Default.aspx de facto head ""Edward DeMarco"":http://www.fhfa.gov/Default.aspx?Page=67, and criticized Republicans for ""trying to pop"" the CFPB by denying it the funds it needs.

""One of the advantages to me not being in office is that I don't even have to pretend to be nice to people I don't like,"" he told reporters to laughter.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.

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