The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board recently emailed a series of questions to Republican Darrell Issa who is running for election to the House of Representatives in District 50. Here are the questions and his responses.
What will be your top domestic and international priority in Congress?
A strong economy and good paying jobs for American workers are my most important priorities. As a job creator and entrepreneur, I know that stopping tax hikes, providing energy security and securing regulatory reform are some of the most important factors in job growth. In this time of economic uncertainty, we need leaders who’ve signed the front side of a paycheck, and who understand what it means to put their life’s savings on the line. Those are the leaders we need making economic policy — not government staffers or college lecturers.
I will return to Congress as a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In that capacity, and since my very first election, my top international priority has been building a lasting peace in the Middle East. As the grandson of Lebanese Christians who were forced to flee the Ottoman Empire because of religious persecution, this issue is deeply personal to me. I’ve traveled on diplomatic missions to the region many times as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and also on behalf of the president. In the past year alone, we have seen tremendous advances in diplomacy in the region that were a long time coming, but there is still more to be done.
Has the pandemic changed your approach to health care? If so, how?
Americans relied on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other state and federal agencies to detect, prevent and prepare for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases before they affected Americans.
Some like to pretend that a few White House staffers are responsible for pandemic preparedness, but we have a massive federal bureaucracy and infrastructure devoted to public health. Our failure to stockpile adequate resources and to effect an early detection of a pandemic wasn’t the failure of a single administration, president or group of people. It was a systemic failure of preparedness that we have all learned a costly lesson from.
Our overconfidence in our public health system is exactly the reason that I do not support a single-payer government takeover of health care. This is a key difference between my opponent and I. His support for Bernie Sanders’ single-payer health care system was the centerpiece of his policy platform in 2018.
What more could Congress do to combat climate change?
While we can disagree and argue about the causes, we can all agree it’s getting hotter. We can also all agree that we must leave our world cleaner and in better health for our children than we inherited it from our parents.
As a Boy Scout, I learned to leave my campsite cleaner than I found it. I’ve carried that value with me and been a proud conservationist my entire life. Fighting pollution is another thing we can all agree on. All of us want clean air, clean water, and clean abundant sources of energy.
I’m proud to have worked with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress in bi-partisan caucus to look for climate change solutions that we can all agree on. I worked with San Diego Democrats Scott Peters and Juan Vargas in this caucus, where instead of bickering about disagreements on the causes of our problems, we focused on solutions that both parties know are important.
Of course, you can’t talk about the climate without focusing on energy policy. We need to promote an all-of-the-above approach to clean energy, including clean natural gas, which still provides the majority of California’s electricity.
I strongly oppose the Green New Deal, while my opponent has said he would push for some version of it. California’s legislature began adopting it’s own version of the Green New Deal during the last decade, and now Californians are suffering the consequences — skyrocketing energy prices and a grid that no longer has sufficient inputs to supply peak power demands, leaving Californians literally in the dark.
Caring for our environment and about clean air also means better forest management. Every time we experience an avoidable wildfire that resulted from government failure to clear out combustible material, large parts of our ecosystem and atmosphere are damaged, and families and businesses are forced to suffer though evacuations, property loss, or worse.
What changes would you make to U.S. immigration policy?
As the grandson of legal immigrants, I am a proud supporter of legal immigration.
Currently, The United States allows more legal immigrants into our country than all other nations combined. We pride ourselves on being a nation of immigrants, and we welcome new immigrants who enter, legally.
We must reform our laws to ensure those who immigrate to America have something unique and valuable to offer, and that they do not pose a burden on our already struggling social safety net.
I have never supported amnesty for illegal aliens, and I never will. I support permanent reforms that will restore the rule-of-law. For these reasons, I have strongly supported the border wall since 1994 when Duncan L. Hunter (Sr.) began securing funding for a fence along our San Diego-Tijuana border. I’m proud to be endorsed by the 18,000 men and women of the National Border Patrol Council because they know I am a fighter for restoring the rule of law.
I haven’t been a blind partisan either. In Congress, I proposed my own solution to the tough problem faced by illegal immigrants whose parents brought them here as children. Many of them have no memory of life outside the U.S. I proposed a plan to make visas available to these immigrants only after vetting by the Department of Homeland Security. My bill reallocated a limited number of slots from existing visa program to maintain existing numbers and solve this complex problem once and for all.
How would you address the massive national debt hanging over America’s future?
When you find yourself in a hole — stop digging. America doesn’t have a revenue problem. Congress has a spending problem.
If we don’t act, the national debt is projected to exceed 100% of GDP in 2021. We cannot let that happen. Deficit spending must finally end and we must focus on aggressively growing our economy so that we can shrink the size of the debt as a ratio of GDP.
As a member of Congress, I and other Republicans reduced spending in our own organizations by 7.1% in 2011, 6.4% in 2012 and again by 5.2% again in 2013. The cuts were tough, but we kept our staff paid and got our job done. We did it to prove that government organizations could in fact absorb spending reductions without folding.
The most important way we can reduce deficit spending is to adopt across the board caps on spending increases. 6% year over year increases are unsustainable.
In addition to budget cuts, I also fought to reduce lavish retirement benefits for members of Congress and I personally identified more than $10 billion in government waste, theft and mismanagement. In just one instance, I discovered a failure to collect federal royalties on natural gas deposits worth more than $4 billion. As chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I took government waste very seriously.
Why should voters choose you over your opponent in this election?
I’m running on my record — not from it.
Since 1985, I’ve been deeply invested in this community. I opened my first factory in San Marcos and began adding employees as we grew throughout the region. My time as a businessman caused me to grow to love my community and I first ran for Congress to give back to it and out of a sense of duty to my country. I know this district and its people well, having been involved in it for so many years, and I represented a substantial portion of it in the past.
I am endorsed by virtually every local office holder in the district including County Supervisors Jim Desmond and Diane Jacob, San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones, Santee Mayor John Minto, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, The San Diego Deputy Sheriff’s Association, and both the Greater San Diego and the East County Regional Chambers of Commerce.
Conversely, my opponent is pretending to be someone he’s not. Two years ago, he ran for this seat as a progressive candidate, and was endorsed by Bernie Sanders’s organizations Justice Democrats and Our Revolution, Elizabeth Warren, The Congressional Progressive Caucus, and others. Now, he is pretending to be a moderate/conservative democrat to appeal to a Republican-leaning district. He’s running from his past endorsements, blowing in the wind trying to be the person he thinks the district wants him to be.
My track record of votes and legislative accomplishments is long. Voters know exactly where I stand on issues and know that I can deliver for them. Upon my return to Congress, on day one I will have both the seniority and experience necessary to hit the ground running. …read more…