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Barney Frank: The Man Behind the Law

Outrage over Wall Street's failures inspired the most sweeping financial overhaul since the Great Depression. Barney Frank, the man whose name is on the bill, only wishes he had gone further.

From the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana to gay marriage, Barney Frank has been at the forefront of liberal causes throughout his three decades as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. But when his time representing Massachusetts' fourth congressional district is up, Frank likely will be remembered for two things: his colorful personality, and the co-authoring of the most dramatic rewrite of the laws governing the nation's financial system since the Great Depression.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act forces nearly all financial services firms to rethink how they do business, from which stocks they trade to how they disclose terms to clients. And if the nearly 70 years it took for the industry to effectively overturn the Glass-Steagall Act serve as any indication, Frank's influence undoubtedly will be felt throughout the industry for decades to come.

The 70-year-old Harvard Law School graduate played a pivotal role in preventing the global financial market from tumbling over the brink. Frank, who presided over the powerful House Financial Services Committee as the 2008 Wall Street collapse unfolded, helped craft the unprecedented banking sector bailouts. Stripped of his committee chairmanship following the Republican takeover of the House last fall, the Capitol Hill powerbroker now says the Democrats did enough with the Dodd-Frank Act during their time controlling both houses of Congress to thwart a similar crisis.