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Barney Frank: Conservative Opposition 'Retarded' Economy

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In a Thursday appearance on CNN, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said conservative opposition "retarded" the economy.

"The American economy today, of all the economies in the advanced nations in the world ... we’re doing the best and we’re doing the best because we’re mixing policies. Now, we’ve been retarded by conservative opposition," he said.

He explained that while about 4 million private sector jobs have been created since late 2009, the country has “lost over 600,000 jobs from state and local government: teachers, firefighters, police officers because the right-wing has sort of cut back on that."

In the interview reflecting on his 32-year legacy in Congress, the retiring representative also took a shot at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

"He was a terrible governor of Massachusetts," said Frank. "Mitt Romney became governor for one reason: to run for president. He was seriously neglectful of the area of the state that I represented that most needed his help."

He also hit Romney for his shifting ideology, referring to him as a liberal running against Ted Kennedy in 1994, a moderate running for governor and a conservative running for president.

"You get a little bit dizzy watching the roadrunner go through those places," he said. He added that he will work hard to campaign for President Barack Obama.

Frank also addressed a U.S. Circuit Court decision Thursday declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. "I was pleased, but not surprised," he said, adding that the ruling doesn't say that anyone in the U.S. has the right to marry someone of the same sex.

He also fielded questions about his legacy in Congress, noting his pride in the financial reform bill, his efforts to promote affordable rental housing and, as the first openly gay member of Congress, working to diminish prejudice. Frank will marry longtime partner Jim Ready in July.

"Jim and I as a married couple, interacting as we will, going to the White House ball in December as another married couple, I think that’s one more fight in the effort to diminish prejudice and give people an alternative reality to the silly stereotypes that they sometimes see," he said.

Frank also addressed a joke he made this weekend concerning the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt when he was shot and killed in February.

"I’m not apologizing at all for trying to make fun of and ridicule and hopefully diminish this attitude that says, ‘Oh my god, this man has a hoodie, he must be suspicious,’" Frank said.

Though he acknowledged it "maybe it wasn't the funniest joke in the world," he also repeated his belief that humor is an effective political tool.

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