DeLong, Lowenthal Face Off in First Formal Congressional Debate
Long Beach Rotary Sponsors Congressional Debate
LONG BEACH POST SUNDAY AUGUST 12, 2012 (August 12, 2012)
Photos by Sarah Bennett.
Gary DeLong and Alan Lowenthal, the two contenders vying for the newly re-drawn 47th Congressional District, faced each other in their first debate hosted by the Long Beach Rotary Club at a meeting aboard
the Queen Mary.
DeLong, currently the 3rd District Councilmember, and Lowenthal, currently a State Senator representing the 27th District, seemingly disagreed on every subject besides the war in Afghanistan, of which both recognized that the United States has overstepped both its boundaries and time in maintaining a military presence there. Their responses to issues addressing the economy, healthcare, and education were definitively within their party lines, each proffering little innovation or alternative thoughts to what each side has been outspoken with from the get-go.
And given the Rotarian crowd (and prehaps DeLong's membership in the club), DeLong quickly became the crowd favorite.
When addressing the economy, DeLong was quick to point out that this was the issue most dire and pressing for our country.
"Growing the economy and creating jobs is the most important challenged in the United States right now. We're in a hole—and we need to dig ourselves out of it."
Hinting at the criticism brought forth by the Occupy Movement and the general Democratic Party stance that wishes to impose higher taxes on higher earners, DeLong stated, "I don't think we need to continue the class warfare and say, 'Oh, it's their fault, they're not paying their fair share.'"
Instead, when focusing on how to reign in the climbing debt—of which he was keen to point out was a fault of both parties and "remains a predicament of both parties"—DeLong pointed out that this should be done through cutting federal spending rather than raising taxes, a very typical Republican mantra in which he ended with, to the applause of the crowd, "So how do you do that? Well, one of the best ways is that you don't continue to add more and more and more regulations on the private sector."
Lowenthal, who has the endorsement of the California Small Business Association despite his party affiliation (they endorsed highly conservative Steve Poizner for governor and recently endorsed independent Nathan Fletcher for Mayor of San Diego), displayed less personal opining in his talk about the economy, referring during the majority of his speaking time to Obama Administration initiatives. In this first round, he recalled the rejected economic and job stimulus packages put forth by the Obama Administration—turned down by Congress—as well as stats from the Economic Policy Institute and other economic thinktanks that support the President's economic plan.
"This policy would have created up to 2 million jobs, boosted the GDP by anywhere from 1.3 to 2 percent, and helped us ingest in learning things that we all want: schools, tools, infrastructure..." he stated. "So why didn't it pass? There was a stimulus and they didn't want another stimulus."
It was here that Lowenthal, per usual the Democratic party platform, defended stimuli as investments in the economy: they invest in our roads, schools, and infrastructure in which without, society would collapse—which, given his support of the President's job act and his faith in the investment into our
economy, differentiates him from DeLong.
Neither candidate, however, specifically addressed the State's worst credit rating in the nation, the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the nation, the ending of Redevelopment Agencies, nor the State's astronomical deficit.
When asked what healthcare should look like in fifteen years, both contenders once again stuck their party's platform stance with Lowenthal supporting the Affordable Healthcare Act and DeLong referring to our staggering debt with a simple "we can't afford it" stance.
The questions of education, along with their individual responses, were moot. Both agreed on the importance of education and both seemed unconsciously unaware that they had no specific answer.
DeLong emphasized that our spending must be discretionary but he didn't particularly explain in what manner one should be discretionary, often referring to broad concepts. "For every dollar you invest in education, the federal government is taking a piece and the state government is taking a piece," then
rhetorically jumping to the question, "How much of that tax dollar you and I are paying actually end up in the classroom?" followed with, "I don't know."
Neither did Lowenthal differ much in the sense of providing specifics on how to handle the flailing education system. Beginning his points with his reminder that he sat on the California Senate's education committee, this seemed an alarming claim to make considering the California State University, University
of California, and Community College systems are facing the largest cuts they've faced in the entirety of their history.
He even referenced the creation of the Long Beach College Promise Act which, while incredibly supportive of local Long Beach students progressing their education, has been tainted with warnings by educational officials this past March that the Promise could see significant setbacks under state cuts to
Of course, these platform-approved responses shouldn't be shocking—and not entirely due to the candidates themselves, who are rather moderate within their party's standards, but due to the forum's lackadaisical nature and lack of participation. Despite having fifteen more minutes remaining, the audience was not permitted to ask any questions, the debate being immediately halted following the final formal question.