Barney Frank on Balancing the Budget: ‘I Don’t Think Balance is Logical’

By Patrick Burke | December 20, 2012 | 5:53 PM EST

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) (AP)

( -- Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) does not think it is “logical” to achieve a balanced federal budget “from the standpoint of a whole economy” because the relationship between budget and government is different from that of budget and individual.

At the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, asked Frank about the “fiscal cliff” talks between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio):  “During these ongoing negotiations would you like to see an attempt to balance the federal budget? And if so,in what year?”

Frank said, “I don’t think balance is logical from the standpoint of a whole economy. One of the problems with balancing the budget, if you’re talking about a private individual you get credit for the things you report and that you own, your assets. The federal government has enormous assets. We have buildings and roads and ships.”

“So I think that you ought to be able to get to a point, 7 or 8 years from now, where in a good economic year you can hit a balance,” he said. “It’s important to reduce the deficit but the analogy between an individual entity and the federal government makes no sense.”

Frank added that it is a “mistake” to only examine the costs of government projects and ignore their future benefits.

“People say, well, what about the future? Well when we build a good transportation system, we’re helping the future,” Frank told “And to look only at the cost of that and not the benefits is a mistake and a form of recounting.”

The House of Representatives will vote Thursday on the “Plan B” proposal of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) that raises taxes on Americans who earn $1 million or more and ends certain deductions – an offer to the White House to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. The fiscal cliff refers to the expiration of the Bush tax rates and the start of automatic spending cuts (sequestration) on Jan. 2, unless Congress and the White House act.

President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have said they will not accept “Plan B,” although it essentially is the same tax-hike proposal floated by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in May.

Also on Thursday, the House will vote on HR 6684, which is a series of budgetary cuts affecting programs such as the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), Social Security and food assistance.