Transcript: The Great American Debates: 'There's Too Much Government In My Life'

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FRANK: And the answer is not nearly enough. Yes, economic growth is a necessary but not a sufficient condition. We now read daycare for working mothers is being cut by this assault on taxation. Community colleges are being cut. Pell grants are being cut. I'm talking about those measures which will allow people who are not in great circumstances to move forward. And only the government will do that. There needs to be sufficient public spending for community colleges, which are generally overwhelmingly public entities, and are being cut back now. On Pell grants for lower-income people. For working mothers to have daycare. It's precisely those things that enable some people who are not now fully participating in this growth to participate, that are the victims of some of this mindless budget cutting.

REICH: Also, beyond this, Christiane, you started to ask about civil liberties and civil rights. One of the great -- one of the great and proudest things this federal government has ever done, has to do with the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, making sure that there's upward mobility and equal opportunity for people with -- not only based on race and religion, based upon disabilities, based upon sexual preferences. I mean, if we did not have those laws, this country would not be as strong as it is now and we wouldn't have the upward mobility that we now have.

RYAN: No argument there.

FRANK: Can I get an answer on marijuana, George? Are you with me on it? I mea, personal liberty, if someone wants to smoke marijuana who's an adult, why do you want to make them go to jail?

WILL: As you know, first of all, on the Internet gambling, as you know, I'm on the -- a supporter of the Barney Frank bill.

FRANK: Yes.

WILL: With regard to marijuana, I need to know more about -- whether it's a gateway to other drugs. I need to know how you're going to regulate it, whether you're going to advertise it. I am open to the--

FRANK: Oh, you're just a copout.

WILL: We're not--

FRANK: It's been around for a long time. The gateway -- anything is a gateway to anything. That's -- and let's put it this way, that's the slippery slope argument, which is a very anti- libertarian argument. The fact is that if someone is doing something that's not in itself wrong, that it might lead later on to something else, then stop the something else. Don't lock them up for smoking marijuana.

WILL: What you're calling a copout is I'm calling a quest for information.

FRANK: How long is it going to last, George? We've been doing it for decades.

WILL: I understand liberalism's aversion to information because it often does not go in their direction.

FRANK: No, I'm averse -- I've been studying this for a long time. You know, you're on Medicare, and how much longer are we going to have to wait for you to make up your mind?

AMANPOUR: I want to get back to the issue of social mobility, because I think it is the --

RYAN: Good. Let's get off marijuana and onto business.

FRANK: It's a great embarrassment to the conservatives that they want to tell people--

(CROSSTALK)

FRANK: Come on. Paul, this is big government. Who can I have sex with? Who can I marry? What can I read? What can I smoke? You guys on the whole -- not all of you -- but it's the conservatives that want to intrude on personal liberties there.

RYAN: All right, Christiane.

(LAUGHTER)

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