From NBC's Abby Livingston
The New Yorker recently quoted Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Barney Frank saying, "Everybody likes to say 'I told you so.' I have found personally that it is one of the few pleasures that improves with age. I can say 'I told you so' without taking a pill before, during, or after I do it."
And this morning at a breakfast with members of the press, he did just that.
Among those he is sore with is Hank Paulsen, saying that the former Secretary of the Treasury's biggest mistake was, "He refused to use any of the TARP money on home foreclosure mitigation." Frank later added, "Hank Paulsen, on the whole, did a very good job," but he "lost sight of the rest of the country and pissed them off entirely."
Frank fears that public anger over the execution of the first TARP funds will tie the government's hands in dealing with the crisis. He stressed that the TARP money will be paid back, drawing a "distinction between the hundreds of billions spent [on] the TARP and the hundreds and hundreds of on Iraq, which isn't coming back," later adding that the biggest ongoing economic threat facing the United States was open-ended military spending.
With the TARP funds, the government is not looking to make a profit, but rather, get the credit system functional, Frank said.
"We're not Warren Buffet," he said. "We're not trying to maximize what we make. We're trying to stimulate this thing. There is some element of subsidy."
Touching on the news about Sen. Judd Gregg's decision to not join the Obama cabinet, Frank called it "inexplicable."
On companies -- surviving off the TARP tab -- who maintain naming rights of professional sports stadiums, Frank called their decisions "pure ego." (Citigroup still maintains its sponsorship of the to-be-unveiled New York Mets baseball stadium, Citi Field.)
Staying with the sports theme, last fall, Speaker Pelosi called Frank the Democrats' "quarterback" through the financial crisis. Frank's Monday morning quarterbacking days are over, though, for now.
Now that Democrats control both ends of Pennsylvania Ave. and that Frank himself runs the House Finance Committee, he's the Sunday afternoon quarterback, and the ball is in his hands.