Frank attacks GOP on farm subsidies in defense of federal mortgage program

Frank also noted that Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) supported the decision to pay Brazil's cotton industry as part of last year's settlement in a trade dispute with Brazil over U.S. cotton subsidies. "The gentleman from Alabama has a very odd way of saving money on the deficit," Frank said.

Bachus retorted that the Obama administration struck that deal last year, and said billions in U.S. exports would have been shut off due to retaliatory Brazilian tariffs if the U.S. didn't agree to make annual payments to Brazil's cotton industry.

"The Obama administration made that deal," Bachus said. "The U.S. Trade Representative, Mr. Kirk, made that deal."

But Frank shot back that Bachus was essentially saying "Obama made him do it," and said there was another alternative to settle the trade dispute. "We could have sent $150 million less to Americans," he said, meaning the U.S. could end subsidies to its own cotton farmers as a way of settling the dispute.

Frank also argued more broadly that Republicans are unfairly scrutinizing funds spent in the U.S. that help Americans, but are ignoring the details of overseas spending that helps other people.

"There's a double standard," he said. "Expenditures in the United States are held to very, very strict accountability, but expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world, we know how much more wastefully and corruptly spent they are, and it doesn't seem to bother other people."

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