July 15, 2014
Barney Frank in Brunswick
Former congressman says military ‘not a jobs program’
JOHN SWINCONECK / THE TIMES RECORD
FORMER U.S. REP. BARNEY FRANK
es foreign and domestic policy, including a call
for reduced military spending, at the Frances
Perkins Center’s Betta Ehrenfeld public policy
forum in Brunswick on Monday.
BY JOHN SWINCONECK
Times Record Staff
In an area defined, in part, by shipbuilding
and the 60-year legacy of a former air base,
many would be cautious in broaching the sub-
ject of cutting military spending. Not so, for
former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank of
Massachusetts, who called for decreased
spending and investment elsewhere.
Frank spoke Monday at Fort Andross in
Brunswick, as part of the Frances Perkins
Center’s annual public policy forum.
“When they closed the air station, did you
notice any deterioration in your security?”
Frank said, in response to a question about
the impact of military spending cuts on jobs.
FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN Bar-
ney Frank of Massachusetts spoke Monday
at Fort Andross in Brunswick, as part of the
Frances Perkins Center’s annual public
“The point is this: The military is not a jobs
Frank noted that there are fewer public
sector jobs than there were five years ago.
Diverting funds from military spending to
infrastucture projects would help create jobs
in those areas, he said.
“Why aren’t people upset about job losses
with teachers or cops or public works
employees, or any of the other programs
that are cut back?” said Frank.
“It’s not healthy for society,” he said, to
spend funds on weapons in the name of jobs.
“Keeping open Bath Iron Works probably is
part of the reason there’s cuts in other
Barney, instead, advocated spending on
projects to benefit public works employees,
teachers, and the environment.
“In general, military spending is probably
less bang for the buck,” said Frank, consid-
ering that most of the defense department’s
budget is spent outside the United States.
Frank noted the U.S. military is larger
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than the next 10 nations
Russia, he said,
could not match American
military power, and China
was still years behind in
The former congressman
dismissed what he called
amounts of military spend-
ing, and similarly dismissed
arguments in favor of what
he called a “worldwide
Navy” needed to keep ship-
ping lanes open.
“Who could be the threat?
Why would the Chinese
want to stop trade with
America?” Frank said.
U.S. military cannot re-
solve conflicts between Shi-
ites, Sunnis and Kurds, nor
can it stop corruption in
Afghanistan, Frank argued.
Frank served in the House
from 1981 to 2013. One, of
Frank’s last achievements in
Congress was authoring the
Dodd-Frank Wall Stree
Reform and Consumer Pro-
tection Act of 2010, a sweep-
ing piece of legislation writ-
ten in the midst of the finan-
Cial and banking crisis.
And while Frank, a Demo-
crat, spoke on domestic mat-
ters including health care,
defended several of Presi-
dent Barack Obama’s poli-
cies, much of the discussion
centered on military spend-
State Sen. Stan Gerzofsky,
whose district represents
Freeport, Brunswick, Harp-
swell and Pownal, attended
the discussion Monday.
When asked his opinion on
Frank’s proposals, Gerzof-
sky said he was more con-
cerned about the state of
veterans programs, noting
that after Brunswick Naval
Air Station closed, an unsuc-
cessful attempt was made to
reserve some base housing
for homeless veterans.
“I would like to see some
of that money diverted to
them,” said Gerzofsky.
“There’s only so much you
can do with weapons. If
you’re going to pick a fight,
take care of the people who
are coming home. “