There’s not enough room in the print editions to include all there was to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s appearance today at the Commonwealth Club of California, so I figured I’d put some of the Q&A segment – moderated by former club board chairman Bob Saldich – up here.
It was largely a friendly crowd, as one might expect from San Francisco, and the first question was about how President Barack Obama could be convinced to listen more to the advice of Nobel laureate economist and columnist Paul Krugman. Boxer said she’s not sure how to get the President on board, but for herself, “I think the Krugman idea of more stimulus is a very good idea. The question is, how do you get it to move?”
That is, any such additional stimulus would face opposition not only from Republicans, but from Democrats feeling gun-shy in advance of November’s midterm elections. Boxer added she believes it’s possible to create more jobs in a fiscally responsible way; she said none of her current proposals would add to the deficit.
Asked if she would vote to eliminate the filibuster – a parliamentary procedure used by the minority party to stymie legislation – Boxer replied that’s a “complicated question.” The founding fathers intended that the House of Representatives would move quickly on legislation while the Senate would see more deliberation and compromise, but abuse of the filibuster “has gotten out of hand” and all of Democrats’ accomplishments of the past two years – health care reform, college loan reform and others – have been made more difficult by the tactic. She said she would support reforming the filibuster so that those staging one would have to physically remain on the Senate floor for the duration, and by lowering the threshold to invoke cloture and break a filibuster from 60 votes to 55.
Asked if she still supports California’s high-speed rail project given the hardships it could impose upon neighborhoods along the route – in the Bay Area, along the Peninsula – Boxer replied she respects local governments’ role in helping to plan such projects. “We can change the routes, it’s not impossible, it’s been done before so everyone can be made happy,” she said, but a majority of Californians believe high-speed rail would be an asset and so she still supports it.
One audience member sent up a question card asking if, given Boxer’s liberal spending record, there are any government programs she would consider eliminating in order to reduce the national debt. “The biggest one would be to end the wars,” she replied, adding she’d also like to see more enforcement to avoid rip-offs by government contractors; everyone paying their fair share in taxes; and no subsidies for companies that send jobs overseas.
Boxer noted that the biggest tax cut in U.S. history was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus, given to working people and families rather than millionaires and billionaires.
More after the jump…
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