Congressman says taxes are essential to economic system

In a speech at Harvard University on Wednesday night, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, downplayed the importance of tax cuts to the economy. 

“I have never seen a tax cut put out a fire,” Frank said, according to the student-run newspaper The Harvard Crimson. “There are things that are absolutely essential to us that we can only do if we come together and pay taxes.”

Frank's argument comes following a drawn-out battle last week in the House, where lawmakers clashed on how much spending should be cut, and from what programs, while debating a continuing resolution to fund the federal government when the current continuing resolution (CR) expires in early March.

Frank was a vocal advocate for several programs threatened with defunding. The CR that passed the House early Saturday morning contained $61 million in spending cuts. Democrats who control the Senate have said that the bill will not pass in the upper chamber.

In his speech, Frank also covered some of his favorite themes, including ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and legalizing gay marriage. 

Frank is a Harvard alumnus.