House Republicans did their best Wednesday to battle Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on the House floor and wound up on the receiving end of some classic Frank jabs.
The bill at issue, authored by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), would cap executive compensation at bailed-out financial institutions and it puts the GOP in a tough spot: after expressing outrage over the AIG bonuses, it's tough to vote against the bill.
In announcing their opposition, Republicans such as Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) took to the floor to decry the fact that the stimulus allowed the bonus payments to be made. They excoriated Democrats for not reading the full stimulus bill but said they objected to the bill on the floor that would fix the loophole that had been in the stimulus.
Frank had a field day with it.
"This is really extraordinary," he said. "What you have just heard is a denunciation of something the Congress did a few weeks ago and a refusal to undo it. I've never seen people, Mr. Chairman, so attached to something they hate. This is presumably a psychological disorder which I am not equipped to diagnose. The objection of the gentleman from Texas was that when the recovery bill was passed, it was passed too quickly [and it] included a provision that shouldn't have been in there. This bill takes it out."
"It is undone by this. And speaking of being undone, my Republican colleagues are being undone by the loss of their whipping boy," Frank said, arguing that Republicans enjoyed scoring political points over the AIG bonuses but didn't want to cap executive compensation generally.
"Truly, all I ask is transparency and for the taxpayers and the people of America to have time to read the bill," responded Culberson.
"The bill under consideration is five-and-a-half pages," Frank said. "I believe even the gentleman from Texas could have read it by now. And if the gentleman from Texas has not been able to read this five-and-a-half page bill, I'll talk long and even if he reads slow, he'll get it done. The point is that this bill undoes what he is complaining about. Note the refusal to address the subject."
Frank then offered some free psychoanalysis. "My colleagues on the other side, it's kind of like kids who have had a toy bear or a blanket and this security blanket means a lot to them. Their security blanket is being able to complain about something that happened before the break," he said.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who followed Culberson, was even more thoroughly dismantled. Watch it, courtesy of the C-SPAN Video Library.