Monday, October 13, 2014

Carr v. Lieu @ Hesse Park

I have put off writing about the last debate on October 8th at Hesse Park Community Center.

Frustration over the poor showing from the state senate candidates, and the heighten clash (and stakes) between Hadley and Muratsuchi has taken most of my attention. The debate was a straightforward clash of ideas between two distinct partisans.

Republican gang prosecutor Elan Carr and Democratic state senator Ted Lieu were cordial to each other, stated their views, contrasted their ideologies without attacking each other, until the end during closing comments.

Carr opened his remarks with his disappointment about living in an American which was less safe. He talked about his military career, fighting then prosecuting terrorists, followed by his work as an LA deputy district attorney prosecuting gang members. He mentioned the slew of scandals which have come to light in the last two years, including the broken VA and the border crisis. Decrying the lack of leadership and hyperpartisanship in Washington, Carr opened his plea for solutions to our country's problems.

Lieu talked about his parents, who immigrated to Ohio (when they could have chosen Florida or California, he joked). Starting from a home in someone else's basement, Lieu's parents worked hard, opened their own jewelry store, then owned six stores. "They lived the American dream", Lieu shared. He then shared his record, college, then Lt. Colonel, followed by his political career, from Torrance City Council, to state assembly, then state senate. Lieu has been a lawyer then a politician for most of his public life.

The first question asked the candidates about their view of American military policy.

Carr repeated that he worked with Sunni tribal leaders, defeated terrorists, and even prosecuted them. Concerned about the decline of American interests in the Middle East, Carr lamented the fall of Mosul, Iraq to ISIS, when a few years ago the Sunni leadership in Iraq had established the region. "We prevent conflict around the world be being strong."

Lieu criticized the United States' invasion of Iraq, claiming that American forces never found the weapons of mass destruction which had motivated the attack. Lieu also brought up his concern about the federal government's failure to answer the question: What do we do now?" after conquering a region. That question certainly requires more attention in the future. Lieu also mentioned the fall-out in Libya after the defeat, deposition, then death of dictator Muammar Ghaddafi. Terrorist groups have established their own stronghold in the region.

Elan Carr

The next question asked whether either candidate would raise taxes on the 1%.

Lieu discussed the end of gridlock in Sacramento, plus the easy passage of balanced budgets after the passage of Prop 30 in 2012. He did not answer the question whether he would support raising taxes on the 1%.

Carr blasted the 40% corporate tax rate, which is causing businesses to flee the country. He mentioned the crisis of youth unemployment, now in the double digits, compared to the 9% average in California. Carr then stated the obvious, which has remain an oblivious fact for liberal legislators:

"You cannot tax your way out of debt."

How would you handle the Middle East if you were President?

Carr joked that he would have only a minute and a half to explain his views on deal with the multiple violent conflicts in the region. The prosecutor argued that the explosion of mass violence in the region is a result of America's lack of leadership in this matter. He also mentioned offered to work with the moderate opposition forces in Syria, arming them and training them for long-term conflict. Because of his prior experience in the region, Carr advocated for restoring relationships with the tribal leaders in the region. Then he defended Israel, and suggested that other nations needs to stop picking on that country, the only stable Western democracy in the region.

Lieu asserted that Iran must not get nuclear weapons. He mentioned legislation which he sponsored, like divesting pension funds from investments in Iran, then passing legislation which would preclude other firms doing business in California that the could not invest in Iran. Citing the current conflict  as the United States' fourteenth war in the region, Lieu urged caution. Right now, he pointed out, American weapons are now being used against Americans.

Do you support campaign finance reform?

Lieu supports campaign finance reform, including a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the "terrible" Citizens United decision, which struck down McCain-Feingold and removed the limits on private contributions to political speech. The state legislature passed a bill which would allow the residents of the state of California to show their support for overturning that Supreme Court decision.

Carr responded that such measures are meaningless. Instead, he suggested the need for more transparency, and that legislators should not receive contributions from industries who may benefit from direct legislation from that Congressman.

What experience do you have to find common ground with the opposite side?

Carr talked about growing up in a Democratic family. His wife is a Democrat, too. He believed that in Washington, most legislators have oceans of common ground among each other. Now was the time for more collegiality in Washington. Frustrated with the polarized nature of our country's politics, Carr  emphasized his belief that individual Americans could come together on the issues.

Lieu revisited his legislative record, talking about all the work he did getting Republicans to vote for budgets and support other legislation in Sacramento. One of his latest pieces of legislation, preventing the state of California from cooperating with the NSA to spy on residents, he co-sponsored with a Republican state senator from San Diego.

Do you support raising the minimum wage?

Carr was very clear on this issue: no. He then discussed the need for job growth, corporate tax reform, closing loopholes, and expanding opportunities for business to expand.

Lieu said he favored raising the minimum wage. He then talked about his role in passing the minimum wage increase in Sacramento, which went to 9$ this year, and will increase to 10$ next  year. Like the state senators who had debated before him, Lieu stressed the importance of ending income inequality.

Do you favor corporate tax reform?

Lieu talked about ending the corporate inversions, like Burger King. in which corporations buy firms in other companies, then move their business headquarters in order to avoid the high taxes and taxing regulations in this country.

Carr repeated the need to lower taxes on corporations, to stop taxing the life out of businesses. He mentioned one story about a medical device company which wanted to relocated in California, but because of the medical device tax, the entrepreneur took his company to Canada instead.

What measures would you support to deal with climate change?

Lieu supported the Cap and Trade program in California, and stated that his first act in Congress would be to reintroduce the Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade bill, the carbon tax program which would require businesses to purchase carbon tax credits or face fines businesses for excessive carbon emissions.

Ted Lieu

Elan Carr did not address the possible threats from carbon emissions, but he did not talk about the number one polluter in the country, China, and how that nation is doing nothing to cur its pollution. He also cited a reference from the LA Times, which described him as pro-business as well as pro-environment (even though the paper had endorsed Matt Miller during the primary and Ted Lieu in the general election).

The last question: Will you pledge to remove your campaign signs once the election is over?

A light-hearted question in contrast to the heated issues of discussion, both Lieu and Carr answered that they would have all their signs removed.

Then came the closing statements.

Lieu reminded the voters in the audience that the Congressional election was partisan, and that Lieu would vote for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker (or minority leader), and  Carr would vote for Speaker John Boehner. Lieu then stated to the audience that unlike the Republicans in Congress, he would defend the federal funding of abortions and fight for measures to protect the country from climate change.

Not responding to the direct criticism from Lieu, Carr returned to his previous professional career, I  which he prosecuted young gang members, whom he would put away for life, usually longer than they had been alive. He emphasized the importance of quality education, including reading programs, for inner city kids.

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