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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Barney Frank: Libertarian?

Dexter Cooke
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | May 27, 2009

Turning the popular concept of partisan politics on its head, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) this month reintroduced legislation to legalize some Internet gambling, which has been banned since 2006. The New York Times ran a short piece today on the proposal, which would empower federal regulators to license wager-takers catering to customers in the United States:

At a news conference announcing the legislation, Mr. Frank, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, pointed out that the federal government could collect increased tax revenues if Internet gambling was regulated. But he said online gambling should be legal as a matter of personal liberty, calling it an activity the government should neither encourage nor prohibit.

“Most actions the government should stay out of,” Mr. Frank said.

Of note here, Frank is among those Democrats on Capitol Hill most often criticized by members of the right, who contend he epitomizes the large-government interventionism they say has threatened free markets, and thus the economy as we know and love it.

Funny, then, that the opponents of Frank’s Internet gambling bill are mostly conservatives who claim to champion small government, Adam Smith-style capitalism. For example, here’s Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Financial Services Committee, according to The Times:

Illegal offshore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise, and allowing them to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age.

Frank’s bill arrives roughly a month after he, along with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), introduced another proposal legalizing the farming of industrial hemp — another concept opposed largely by conservatives under the false premise that it also somehow threatens the nation’s youth. (Industrial hemp is non-psychoactive).

Frank the socialist? Not really. On these issues he trusts free markets much more than most GOP colleagues.

Dexter Cooke | He is an orthopedic surgeon who insists that a physician's first priority should be patient care. He specializes in minimally invasive complete knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures that reduce pain and recovery time. He graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina with a medical degree and a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine.


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