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Alan Lowenthal And Gary DeLong Square Off In 47th Congressional Race
Part I Of Two-Part Interview
By Business Journal Staff
October 09, 2012 - Long Beach City Councilmember Gary DeLong, a Republican, and California State Sen. Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat, will square off November 6 in a race for the U.S. House of Representatives in California's newly created 47th Congressional District, which covers Long Beach and West Orange County.
California State Senator Alan Lowenthal, at left. Long Beach City Council
Member Gary DeLong, at right.
DeLong, 52, was born in Westchester, received his MBA from the University of Southern California and has served on the city council since 2006. He is the president and CEO of The RTP Group, a telecommunications consulting firm and software development company.
Lowenthal, 71, was born in New York City, earned a Ph.D. from Ohio State University and is a professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach. A former Long Beach city councilman, he has served in the California State Assembly and Senate since 1998.
Both candidates sat down with the Business Journal in September for lengthy discussions about the most pressing issues facing voters in this election cycle.
The Business Journal has chosen to run their responses side by side so that readers can compare and contrast the candidates' views.
In Part I, Business Journal Staff Writer Joshua H. Silavent discusses job creation, tax policy and foreign policy with DeLong and Lowenthal.
Part II, which covers education, environment and healthcare issues, was conducted by Business Journal Senior Writer Tiffany Rider and will appear in the October 23 edition.
The interviews were conducted at the Business Journal offices and included Publisher George Economides.
Alan Lowenthal Responds
LBBJ: What factors do you think are responsible for the slow recovery of jobs in this country over the last four years?
Lowenthal: I think that we have to start with the five months between when Bush left office and Obama took the presidency. We lost almost three million jobs in the United States. We atrophied at 750,000 jobs a month. We now have shown positive progress, especially in private sector jobs. I think what we're seeing now is the slowest part of the recovery. It's still in the public sector side because they've had the most cuts recently. The private sector was first to really feel the recession. . . . This was not just a natural downturn. There were two wars on a credit card. There was tremendous debt. There was fiscal crisis in the banking industry, bankruptcies. So it's taken a long time . . . Until we recover the housing market and others, we're going to see a slower recovery. In California, we were one of four states – Arizona, Florida and Nevada the others – that experienced 88 percent of the foreclosures in the nation due to the subprime. We had the most speculation. Once the foreclosures started in California, construction stopped. Business and retail got closed down. The Central Valley and the Inland Empire just went into crisis. So I think it's going to take a long time. Inventory needs to come down. People need to have more confidence in jobs, and that recovery that we're already seeing has to continue. It's not going to be a rapid rise, but it is going to be a steady and sustained recovery.
LBBJ: What is the federal government not currently doing that you would like to see them do to help spur job growth?
Lowenthal: There are a couple of things. I think that there are both short-term and long-term ways in which we can fix the economy in the role of the federal government. In the short term, the federal government can target certain industries or can provide ways through the Federal Reserve actions . . . Or the president's American Jobs Act, which is a shorter-term solution, which is to invest in infrastructure, reinvest in education, teachers, schools, police, fire. In the long run, we must become competitive in terms of putting out a well-educated workforce that can compete in a worldwide, global economy. We have to support the entrepreneurial spirit of the country. Also, on the short term, we have to get banks loaning money again. I think the biggest impetus to recovery is the inability for small businesses to get loans today and housing to get loans. They're just not getting loans.
LBBJ: Do you think Democrats need to get more serious in addressing long-term debts and deficits . . .
Lowenthal: Democrats are as serious as Republicans on that; probably even more so. I think the Democrat president has put forward a proposal that we need to bring down the debt, which he inherited. A massive amount of it was inherited. He, naturally, tried to stimulate the economy, and it did contribute to it, but that is because we were in freefall and we could not let the faith and credit of the United States go bust. But, obviously, there were things that he did to kind of cushion the fall. I think that what he has done now is to say we need a reasonable approach, a rational approach that says we need some investment, a significant amount of cuts in programs, and we need a rational tax policy . . . . I think a professional tax policy is one in which there is a shared responsibility and that the upper income earners need to pay their fair share, which means allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for those above $250,000 and to be extended for those below $250,000 or families at $500,000 to protect the middle class. I think the greatest risk for this moment is to the middle class.
LBBJ: Given that corporate profits have rebounded – they are really at all-time highs – do you think the private sector bears any responsibility for the slow recovery of jobs?
Lowenthal: Well, I think those in the financial markets that exploited us, they almost brought the state and the nation to its knees, we helped the large financial institutions that took mortgages and sold them to people or provided them to people they probably should not have, and then packaged them. There's obviously responsibility there. I think that the other part of it is that it's been very difficult for businesses to access capital. I think that's why we have QE3. On one hand, you only want to incur debt when you already have a significant amount of debt is when there is going to be some impact of doing that that is positive. What Bernanke and the Federal Reserve is saying is we will take on some additional debt, we will buy some of that debt, but that will free banks to make loans. We will take that, and hopefully those loans will go to small businesses or housing. We've got to get housing back moving again, that's why I have strong support on the housing industry out there.
LBBJ: Right or wrong, there's a public perception that Democrats don't understand business or the private sector. Whether you agree or not, do you think there is something Democrats can do to at least change that perception?
Lowenthal: I don't think that Democrats do not understand business. Sometimes we want to do more than we have the resources to do them, or have done in the past, but I think we all understand that we have to live within our means. The question is, how do you do that? Democrats want a balanced approach and Republican proposals that have been put forth have been austerity and cuts. I think that is the difference. But there has been tremendous support for business from the Democrats also. I think what you're talking about is should we have more of a balanced approach, should we have more cuts accompanied by tax reform and some additional revenues, or should we do it all by cuts? I think that's the difference. I'm with the Democrats that we shouldn't do it all by cuts.