The Green New Deal, unveiled by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, will not resonate with American voters, longtime Democrat Barney Frank told CNBC on Tuesday.
The proposal, which calls for generating 100 percent of the nation's power from renewable sources within 10 years, is emerging as a major campaign issue, with all the Democratic senators running for president in 2020 pledging their support and President Donald Trump and Republicans blasting it.
"I think the Green New Deal would be loser," said Frank, the former Massachusetts congressman who retired in 2013 after more than three decades on Capitol Hill. "There's an argument that you don't destabilize a society by doing too much change at once."
Critics of Frank's signature legislation, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, had expressed similar concerns. The measure, also written by then-Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., was crafted after the 2008 financial crisis and signed into law in 2010 by then-President Barack Obama.
"There are people who are skeptical of government," said Frank, who has defended Dodd-Frank for years against accusations that it was too broad and disruptive to the financial industry. "People like me who do want to expand the government role in some areas need to understand that we need to show how that works. You have to do it in pieces. And then as you show that it worked, you build on that."
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Democratic nomination that went to Hillary Clinton — is among the senators supporting the Green New Deal. He announced Tuesday he's running for the White House again.
In a "Squawk Box" interview, Frank said, as he did four years ago, that he does not believe Sanders can be elected president.
"Bernie Sanders, obviously, makes a very important contribution," Frank said. "I wish the American people were more willing to vote for what he wants."
The other senators who already announced bids for the White House are Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren, New York's Kirsten Gillibrand, California's Kamala Harris, New Jersey's Cory Booker, and Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar.
Joe Biden, former vice president and a former longtime senator himself, is also expected to jump into the race soon.