You know what I want for Mother's Day? I want Barney Frank to get his own teevee show, where I will no longer have to watch on-the-other-hand media types act as if people like Marsha Blackburn were not lying through their teeth. That's what I want. (And did I mention the experience that made her suitable for Congress? She was the marketing and PR person for Green Hills Mall in Nashville TN - you know, the person who brought in fashion shows and soap opera stars for mall events.)
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, I want to ask you that question -- put that question to the congressman, but, first, let me bring that to you, as well, because some top Republicans seem reluctant to talk about this too much, but Rick Santorum just the other day said he wanted Mitt Romney to push it very hard. Listen.
Tsk. Rick, you really need to think before you say things.
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SANTORUM: This is a very potent weapon, if you will, for Governor Romney, if he's willing to step up and -- and take advantage of a president who is very much out of touch with the values of -- of America.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Representative Blackburn, should Mitt Romney follow Rick Santorum's advice?
BLACKBURN: I think that what you're going to see Mitt Romney do is put the focus on jobs and the economy. And, George, you're talking about this is Mother's Day. We've got nearly 858,000 women that have lost their jobs under this president. And you have women that are concerned about the loss in household income under this president, nearly $4,000 per household. Those are the issues that are first and foremost in front of people, is making certain that jobs and the economy is the focus.
With that said, I think that you can go back and look at Supreme Court cases, you can look at the institution of marriage, and you know that Mitt Romney, who has always fought for traditional marriage, is going to continue to do this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Frank, the president said in that interview with Robin Roberts that he didn't want to nationalize this issue. He says it's a mistake to turn what has traditionally been -- this is a quote -- "a state issue into a national issue." And I want to show you a little bit more of that exchange with Robin.
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OBAMA: Different communities are arriving at different conclusions at different times. And I think that's a healthy process and a healthy debate. And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is going to be worked out at the local level, because historically this has not been a federal issue.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, Congressman, more than 30 states have voted to ban same-sex marriage, so is this a viable strategy, to leave it to the states?
BLACKBURN: I think...
FRANK: It's not a strategy, George. It's reality. In America, marriage has always been a state-by-state issue. Now, the Republicans have tried to change that. First George Bush and then Mitt Romney have supported a constitutional amendment, which contrary to any notion of letting the states do what they want, would not only prevent the state in the future from deciding to be for same-sex marriage if it wanted to...
FRANK: ... but would have canceled the existing same-sex marriages.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me -- let me -- let me interrupt you there, though, because you say it's always been a state-by-state issue, but in 1967, the Supreme Court did prohibit, you know, a ban on mixed-race marriages.
FRANK: But not based on the state's right to decide marriages, George. The case you're talking, the Loving case, was a 14th Amendment case based on race. What the federal government said then was, a state may not -- and, by the way, it wasn't the executive branch or the legislative branch. It was a Supreme Court decision, which said not that one state had to recognize what another state did, but that states could not discriminate based on race in anything. That followed up after the education decision.
But in any case, that was a Supreme Court decision. It wasn't anything by the executive or the legislative. The first effort by the executive or the legislative to deal with this, as I said, was a Republican effort to ban it altogether.
I do know -- George, I have to say -- and I -- you know, this is a good political science lesson for people about what a political party's talking points are. My colleague, Ms. Blackburn, has been instructed to talk about the economics first.
And while I would prefer to answer your questions, I do have to note that this Republican talking point, that women have lost jobs, the job losses came about because of the terrible recession that non-regulation in the economy brought about under George Bush. We have been gaining jobs since then. And it's true, by the way, that jobs for women have lagged...
BLACKBURN: Oh, I have to correct that.
FRANK: ... because the Republicans...
FRANK: I'm sorry. May I continue, George?
BLACKBURN: That's incorrect information.
FRANK: George, George, what are the rules here?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finish the point, and then I want Congresswoman Blackburn to respond.
FRANK: Well, I'm responding to her point about the economy.
FRANK: I'm sorry. George, what are...
BLACKBURN: Barney, here -- here is the thing -- you had...
FRANK: Excuse me. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on. Hold on. Congressman...
FRANK: George, would you tell me what the rules are, please?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were responding to her point. I want you to finish your response to her point and then have Congresswoman Blackburn respond.
FRANK: Well, I was trying to do that. She's the one who introduced economics for their political talking point position. The fact is that if you look at the charts that the Federal Reserve has put out, George Bush's appointee, Ben Bernanke, reappointed by President Obama, job losses peaked right about the time Obama took office. They have been climbing back up.
And in terms of jobs lost by women, part of the problem is that, thanks to Republican objections to our efforts to provide help for states and cities, a lot of teachers have been fired, a lot of social workers, a lot of municipal employees, and, in fact, private-sector jobs have gone up by about 4 million under President Obama.
FRANK: Public-sector jobs have dropped by over 600,000.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get Congresswoman Blackburn to respond to that.
FRANK: That's a large part of the reason women have lost jobs.
BLACKBURN: George, unemployment among women was 7 percent when this president took office, and it's 8.1 percent today. And you have seen women in the last year lose jobs. And that is something you can go look at the bureau of labor stats. It is there.
I have great empathy for those women who are fighting, struggling, supporting their families. You know, the price of gas has gone up at the pump; they're concerned about that. The price of groceries, every time they go fill the cart -- when I'm in the grocery store, I will talk to women about these issues.
And I've got to tell you, the number-one thing they talk about is jobs, the economy. They're concerned about what is happening with the debt in this nation. They're concerned about how the burden of debt we are putting on our children and grandchildren is capping their future and trading it to the people that hold that debt.
Notice that great segue? They're concerned "about jobs and the economy," and then she turns that into concern about debt. I'm sure women walk up to Marsha in the supermarket and say, "You know, I have this new grandbaby and I can hardly sleep at night, thinking about all the debt that will cripple her future!" (Although to be fair, this IS Tennessee and there might be some teabaggers who still talk like that.)
FRANK: George, I've got to respond to that.
BLACKBURN: I have a 4-year-old that just turned 4 yesterday...
FRANK: George, George...
BLACKBURN: ... a grandson that turned 4 yesterday. And the fact that he now has $50,000 worth of debt on his head, these poor, precious children that we're burdening with this, because we will not -- the Senate will not take up a budget.
BLACKBURN: And you're not addressing the issues of debt and...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get to another -- I want to get to another economic issue, Congressman, because there was another big economic issue this week...
FRANK: Well, George, I'd like to respond to that. You...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you had your chance to make your point.
FRANK: ... question -- well, let me -- let me respond to that. In the first place, on the debt, these are the people who want increased military spending unendingly, who are critical of the president for trying to get out of Afghanistan. Yes, we are spending too much money. We are spending too much money especially...
BLACKBURN: You're right. We're spending...
FRANK: ... on these international -- I'm sorry. Can I finish a sentence? I don't -- Ms. Blackburn, I don't know what the strategy is that -- don't let him talk, bring up new subjects when George asks a question, but I would hope we have a civil debate here.
The fact is that the debt is being driven by the Bush administration's decision to go to war twice, with five big tax cuts for the wealthiest. I am trying very hard -- and many of us are -- to cut this.
Look, the Wall Street Journal said that the Republican budget Ms. Blackburn voted for was a good budget because it protected the military against any cuts and made that up by cutting Medicare and Medicaid.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get...
FRANK: So we're not just talking about whether you reduce spending, but how you spend, and the deficit is being driven to some extent by their tax cuts for wealthy people and excessive military expenditures, which I'm trying to stop.