POLITICS
05/22/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Barney Frank: Financial Reg Reform 'Is Much Easier' Than Health Care

With health care in the House of Representative's rear-view mirror for now, attention is shifting to the push for financial regulatory reform, which has passed the House but is moving along slowly in the Senate.

Approached in the halls of Congress on Sunday night, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), who wrote the House's Wall Street reform bill, predicted "unfortunately" that there will be a "reprise of the very partisan vote" that had just occurred on health care reform. But when pressed further, the Financial Services Committee chairman said he expects that the Democratic Party will have a much easier time selling financial regulation legislation both in the Senate and the House.

"Regulatory reform is a more popular issue," Frank told the Huffington Post. "There may have been a time when the health insurance companies were very unpopular. But that is a more one-sided issue publicly. I thought [Rep. John] Boehner and [Sen. Richard] Shelby going to the American Bankers Association and promising them they would do parliamentary tricks to kill this bill [Frank trails off]... Part of it, look, you know you can tell who thinks they are on the popular side by who is demanding the up-or-down vote... We are demanding an up-or-down vote. We are for talking about things out in public. I think reg reform is much easier."

Frank's sentiment is shared throughout the party, up to the highest reaches of the Obama White House, where officials are upbeat and optimistic about the prospects for regulatory reform. Part of it is simple political calculus: it's awkward to fight against placing more restrictions on big banks so close to the collapse of the financial market. And, indeed, when Senate Republicans came out against Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) regulatory reform proposal last week, they prefaced their remarks by admitting they agreed with huge chunks of the legislative language.

That said, Democrats still need to peel off one Republican vote in the Senate, at the very least. And, as of now there have been no takers on the other side of the aisle.