“I want to take our reform agenda from San Diego and bring it to Washington, balance the budget, create jobs, support workers and small business and start changing the culture of Congress,” DeMaio told Mission Bay Rotarians during a campaign pitch.
“Both parties are broken and the dysfunction is outrageous, which is why nothing seems to get done. We’ve got to clean up the mess and dysfunction,” he said.
DeMaio’s was the first of two back-to-back meetings that will be hosted by Rotarians, next featuring Peters on Aug. 18 at 12:30 p.m. at the same venue, the Catamaran Resort Hotel.
Touting his legacy as a pension-reforming City Councilman, DeMaio pointed out opinion polls currently show only a 7 percent approval rating for U.S. legislators.
“Congress needs to wake up. They’re out of touch with the American people,” he said, noting he’d institute a number of reforms to streamline federal government.
DeMaio proposed making the federal government more transparent by posting legislation like amendments online prior to votes, eliminating special-interest lobbyist and corporate funds for Congressional members’ travel and removing members’ political perks.
“I want to make Congress members more transparent and accountable by stripping them of special subsidies for their healthcare and pensions,” DeMaio said. “I don’t believe members should be given benefits that are better than the constituents they serve.”
DeMaio said if Congress members are removed from the pension system and have to rely on Social Security, they’ll “make sure those two systems remain solvent and secure.”
Asked why voters should choose him rather than Peters, DeMaio replied, “Peters was on the City Council for eight years and he [helped create] the city’s pension crisis and put San Diego on the road to bankruptcy while slashing public services. I was on the City Council for four years and was able to dig the city out of that hole and make the changes necessary to save our city from bankruptcy.”
DeMaio fielded questions from audience members especially interested in his stand on immigration.
“You have to force Washington to do its job and secure the border,” he answered.
“We have to secure the border as a prerequisite to any additional changes we do to make to our immigration system work,” he said.
DeMaio said he felt there’s room for compromise on the immigration issue, saying, “The American people agree on 65 to 70 percent of reform.”
He said it’s the extreme elements at both ends of the political spectrum that are complicating attempts at reform.
Asked his views about the Arab-Israeli conflict, DeMaio said, “I’m 100 percent in support of the Israeli position, particularly seeing the consistent refusal of Hamas to participate in peace accord after peace accord.”
DeMaio also gave his take on health-care reform.
“I don’t know why health-care exchanges are government-managed,” he said. “I would keep the exchanges, but allow them to be privatized. I would pass a bill that would allow you to take any health-care policy from any employer and convert it in an open exchange to a cash equivalent and buy any policy you like.”
DeMaio said he’s heard from too many working people who’ve lost their doctors because of Obamacare. “Why should people have to give up their doctors with health-insurance changes?” he asked. “You should be able to keep your own doctor.”