Barney Frank Not Ready to Call it Quits (Updated)
The veteran congressman said he will not retire in 2012 and former Republican challenger Sean Bielat responds.
Updated 3:52 p.m.
Newton Congressman Barney Frank wants his name on the 2012 ballot.
Despite retirement rumors, Frank said in an e-mailed statement today he plans to run for re-election next year.
"I have become convinced that making my decision to run for re-election known is important for maximizing the impact I can have on the range of issues to which I am committed," Frank said in the statement. "These issues require a time commitment longer than the next two years."
Frank, 70, represents the Fourth Congressional District, which includes Newton, Brookline, Wellesley, Fall River and New Bedford.
As he outlined during his campaign in November, Frank said his focus in Congress will be to defend the financial reform bill and reduce America's "worldwide military footprint."
Frank also noted his commitment to state issues including housing for low-income residents, protection of Massachusetts' fishing industry as well as "fighting for full legal equality for all citizens."
In November, the veteran congressman defeated Brookline Republican Sean Bielat, Frank's first significant challenger in years.
Read Frank's full statement below:
I will be running for re-election to the House of Representatives in 2012.
While I would have preferred to put off a discussion about the next election until a later date, I have been asked on a number of occasions about my plans. In addition, I have become convinced that making my decision to run for re-election known is important for maximizing the impact I can have on the range of issues to which I am committed. These issues require a time commitment longer than the next two years.
There are two issues in particular that are of central importance. The first is to defend the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which will substantially diminish the likelihood of the risky and irresponsible behavior which led to the current economic crisis. The law is already under attack by those who oppose meaningful regulation and who would undermine it, either by pressuring regulators to weaken the law or by underfunding agencies such as the SEC and CFTC which are charged with administering it. The House Republican leadership has been very explicit about this, specifically targeting stronger regulation of derivatives, the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and restrictions on excessively risky behavior by federally-insured banks. If these opponents of reform are successful, it will put American workers and families at risk of suffering the effects of another economic meltdown. I intend to do everything in my power to fight their efforts.
My second national priority is to reduce significantly America’s swollen, unnecessary, worldwide military footprint – this is the only way to reconcile the need for us to spend wisely, to promote our economy and to accomplish substantial deficit reduction. Failure to address excessive military spending will either add to the deficit or force cuts in education, police, fire, transportation, scientific research, food safety, and infrastructure investment. The disparity between the cost of America’s legitimate security needs and the money we spend to maintain a worldwide military presence is the single greatest obstacle to responsible deficit reduction. While in the past it has appeared to be politically impossible to make reasonable cuts to excessive military spending, there are recent encouraging signs, including the bipartisan work I have done with Congressman Ron Paul. I will continue to make this a major part of my work in order to improve our economy and preserve our quality of life.
While these two issues are central to our ability to return to a full-employment economy while protecting our quality of life, there are other national and regional issues on which I will be working as well -- protecting the fishing industry in Massachusetts from arbitrary, unjust and unfair actions; fighting for full legal equality for all citizens; providing for the housing needs of low-income people, not by pushing them unwisely and unsustainably into homeownership, but rather by building affordable rental housing; and helping local communities provide a level of service adequate to the needs of their residents.
This afternoon, Bielat released a statement in response to Frank's announcement.
Although Bielat does not say in the statement he will run for the congressional seat on 2012, he argues many of Frank's points and focuses on Frank's goal to reduce the country's "military footprint."
Bielat, who served in the Marine Corps, questioned the congressman's ability to make decisions about the country's armed forces.
"With unrest rampant around the globe, it is dangerous to entrust our national security to those with superficial knowledge of security issues and strong, parochial ideologies," Bielat says in the statement.
Here is a copy of Bielat's statement:
Today Congressman Barney Frank announced his intention to seek reelection for the 16th time. In his statement, Congressman Frank states that his goals require “a time commitment longer than two years.” It is unclear why the previous 32 years haven’t been sufficient to achieve his goals, but nonetheless, Congressman Frank’s justifications for remaining in office show why he shouldn’t.
His first objective is to ensure that no one modify, improve, or in any way attempt to change his financial “reform” legislation. One wonders how long Congressman Frank will have to stay in office to achieve this goal. There are strong arguments for changing a bill that increases the deficit, reduces the availability of credit, and creates so many new regulations that existing agencies can’t enforce them. More concerning to me, however, is Mr. Frank’s misguided crusade to slash our armed forces even if it imperils our security.
Congressman Frank has no military experience, he has never sat on the House Armed Services Committee, and he has never shown any real interest in the military other than calling for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Yet he now steps forward with the agenda of drastically diminishing our military capabilities. With unrest rampant around the globe, it is dangerous to entrust our national security to those with superficial knowledge of security issues and strong, parochial ideologies.
Anyone who argues that there is no room for reducing defense spending is wrong. But anyone who argues for massive cuts without regard for consequences is dangerous. In two of our debates, Mr. Frank said “I want there to be an arms race in Asia.” Is this someone who should lead defense spending reform? Do we as a nation want to gamble on our safety and security the way we gambled on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
There are real savings to be had through defense acquisition reform, reducing the 600,000 person defense civilian workforce, and eliminating unnecessary weapons programs. It should be self-evident that any program that the Pentagon says it doesn’t need should not be funded. Yet just last year Mr. Frank voted to fund such a program for political reasons. Even though the Secretary of Defense and the President both publicly opposed the program as unnecessary, Mr. Frank voted for it. It seems to be a hypocritical act for someone crusading against defense spending.
No one would argue that we don’t need police because our streets are safe but Mr. Frank is making exactly that argument—we don’t need military strength abroad because the world is stable. He ignores causation and implies that isolationism would keep us just as safe. We live in a dangerous world and reducing our ability to defend ourselves won’t make it any safer.
Voters should be wary of sending Frank back to Washington yet again if his goal is to push for such a dangerous and ideological agenda.
Finally, Mr. Frank says, “there are recent encouraging signs, including the bipartisan work I have done with Congressman Ron Paul.” If gaining the support of one member of the opposite party constitutes “bipartisan” support, then back in November there was a lot of bipartisan agreement that Mr. Frank should not return to Washington.
Editor's note: Frank is 70-years old, not 72-years old as previously reported.