barney-frankALEXANDRIA, Va. – Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told yesterday that he is in favor of letting people smoke marijuana and gamble online but not the right to acquire mortgages they cannot afford.

Frank was responding to a question about criticism leveled at him by Finance Committee colleague Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) over his bill, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009. Bachus was questioning the underlying premise of the bill, which would impose tough federal regulations on subprime and other “high risk” mortgage lending.

“If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it,” Bachus said Thursday, referring to people who bought expensive mortgages. “You’re substituting the government’s decision for the individual’s decision [about] whether they can afford it.” asked Frank what he thought of Bachus’ opinion that his bill undercut personal freedom and the right to make a mistake, which is when the Massachussett’s congressman weighed in with his general philosophy of freedom with limits.

“We’re not just talking individual responsibility,” Rep. Frank said. “We have a world-wide economic crisis now, because of this. If it were purely individual responsibility, OK, that’s why I disagree with the ranking member.”

He then said that he was in favor of people being allowed to smoke pot and gamble online, because such behavior potentially hurts no one but them, but that irresponsible loans hurt everyone. said the gambling remark was a slightly veiled comment on Bachus’ opposition to online gambling.

The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009, which is sponsored by Reps. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), Mel Watt (D-N.C.) and Frank, will go for mark up April 28.