Rep. Frank: Economy 'ready to take off'

The economy is "getting ready to take off," Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Friday, arguing that President Obama will face better prospects in 2012 than Democrats do in November.

Democrats are coming under heavy criticism for not turning the economy around faster. The unemployment rate remains near double-digit levels, the housing market continues to struggle and the broader economic recovery has slowed.

Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said there is "terrible pain" but that the economy is primed to improve before 2012.

"I believe the economy, frankly, is in the position to take off," Frank told reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.

Frank said it would be a "leaner economy" and one that is "ready to thrive," which will help Obama in the next presidential election.

"I think the president is going to be the beneficiary of a lot of this," Frank said.

Frank defended the roughly $800 billion package of spending programs and tax cuts passed in 2009 and the bailouts of the financial system begun under George W. Bush and continued under Obama. The bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler were a "very successful intervention" in supporting U.S. manufacturing and the chain of suppliers across the country.

He said the "biggest mistake" by the Obama administration was the prediction that the 2009 package of spending programs and tax cuts would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent.

"The public doesn't grade on a curve. The public grades on reality," Frank said.