The Twin Towers of Dodd-Frank

Dodd-Frank is complex. So is the financial world it regulates.

Don't mess with Liz.

Saul Loeb/AFP

On the surface, Henry Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the populist Democrat from Massachusetts, seem an unlikely team. But former Representative Barney Frank, co-author of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation enacted in 2010, said he views Paulson and Warren as twin pillars protecting the financial system.

In an interview this week on the Charlie Rose television program, Frank, who was chairman of the House Financial Services Committee during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, recalled former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Paulson telling Congressional Democratic leaders, "The economy is about to fall apart and we have got to do something the public isn't going to like."

Frank worked with Bernanke and Paulson to push through the unpopular but ultimately successful financial bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Paulson, Frank said, remained helpful even after leaving government, assisting in the drafting and passing of Dodd-Frank. 

While Paulson helped establish Dodd-Frank, Frank said, "Elizabeth Warren is helping safeguard it" from Republicans eager to scuttle the law. He acknowledged that Dodd-Frank is complex. But Frank insisted it was neither politically nor substantively possible to make the legislation, which overhauls some regulations dating to the 1930s, less complicated. "In the thirties, there was no such thing as credit default swaps and collateralized loan obligations and collateralized debt obligations," he said.

Frank's memoir -- titled "Frank" -- chronicles his more than four decades in public life. For the first two decades, he said, he felt it necessary to hide his sexuality while celebrating his advocacy of liberal policies. Now, he says, it's easier to be gay -- he was married during his final term in Congress -- and harder to champion liberal policies.

The reason, he said in the interview, is paradoxical. Democrats have been losing white middle class voters because those voters believe government hasn't done enough for them. "The paradox is that they're mad at government not because they disagree with it," he said. "But because it hasn't delivered for them."

The television interview will air on the Charlie Rose PBS program tonight. It will be rebroadcast Wednesday on Bloomberg television.

(Corrects spelling of Paulson.)
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

    To contact the author on this story:
    Albert R. Hunt at

    To contact the editor on this story:
    Francis Wilkinson at

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.