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Swalwell talks tax bill, national security and more at town hall

Full house at Cal High for representative's last event of 2017

It was a packed house in the cafeteria at San Ramon's California High School Saturday morning, where local U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) held his last town hall of the year.

At the meeting, Swalwell touched on a variety of issues, from the recently approved tax bill to immigration to the numerous sexual misconduct allegations coming out in politics and the media.

Most of the town hall, which lasted about an hour and a half and was attended by at least 200 residents of the 15th Congressional District, was dedicated to a question-and-answer session, though Swalwell opened by talking about national security issues, gun legislation and the recently approved tax bill, which he adamantly opposed.

"If you're going to lower (the corporate tax rate), there should be a guarantee that profits are shared with the workers," he said. "And that's not in this bill at all."

He criticized the removal of certain deductions, including the mortgage interest deduction, which hits hard in the Bay Area.

"As a kid growing up here, I lived in 11 different homes, I went to nine different schools before I graduated high school....I remember when I was 14 years old, my parents bought their first house, it was because of the mortgage interest deduction," he said. "That was a big part of being able to buy a home in Dublin, was because of that deduction."

He added that tax reform was needed, but that the bill passed Friday night was not the solution.

"I believe that we need tax reform," he said. "I think it should be more simplified. But I think it should help working families...It shouldn’t be a way to just allow the people at the very top who are already doing well in this economy, to do better."

On the national security front, Swalwell focused on North Korea, criticizing President Donald Trump for "undermining the secretary of state ... engaging in name-calling" in a situation that has "gotten very dangerously out of control."

He pointed out that 38,000 U.S. troops and their families were stationed in South Korea, potentially in harm's way.

"These are challenging times, and cool, reasonable minds and showing American leadership, by working with our allies, is the best way to do that," he said.

Swalwell's comments on gun legislation came in part from his post as a member of the Judiciary Committee. While he's not opposed to hunting for sport, he said more needs to be done to advance universal background checks, in light of the hundreds of mass shootings that have occurred since Sandy Hook.

"Unfortunately, there was legislation on Wednesday that would expand who could carry a concealed weapon in the United States," he said.

The legislation, he said, would allow someone from a state like Idaho, which has very little in terms of background checks, to have a concealed weapon in California, which requires applicants undergo a rigorous psychological exam and thorough background check, obtain an insurance policy and complete a weapons safety course.

"Now all of the limitations that we've put to protect our community in California will mean nothing to somebody who wants to bring their firearm into our communities," Swalwell said.

After his 20-minute opening, Swalwell began taking attendees' questions, which ran the gamut of topics and issues, from the national to the local to even the personal.

One of the first questions focused on the recent cases of sexual misconduct that have arisen, and what should be taught to boys and young men.

"What I fear is that only people of noteworthy status are going to be held to account and that in different offices across America, that harassers are going to get away with it," he said.

In Congress, "Me Too" legislation had been proposed, he said, which would require transparency in sexual misconduct settlements. Transparency is important, Swalwell said, but would necessitate delicacy, in order to protect victims from having their names revealed.

On a national scale, he said, it comes back to having more diverse leaders, both in terms of gender and race. "I firmly believe that the environments we work in, reflect who is at the leadership table," he said.

When asked for an update on health care legislation, Swalwell voiced his support for a single payer system, though not free health care.

He took a parallel stance when asked about high levels of student loan debt nationwide. "I don’t like free college," he said. "To me, the way I was raised, nothing is free, you have to work your way through college."

He pointed, though, to his initiative, College Promise, which stipulates that if you are a student in work study through college and serve a year afterward in a national service, "you should come out with a debt-free education."

Swalwell was asked about the ongoing Russia investigation, particularly as a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He pointed to the recent progress coming out of the Robert Mueller investigation.

"What I would like for our own House Intelligence Committee investigation, is that we be (not only) as serious and determined as Bob Mueller and his team, but as serious and determined as the Russians were when they undermined our democracy," he said.

Right now, he said, he's been a proponent for the House investigation being able to subpoena witnesses and push for third party documents -- currently, the witnesses who come forward are there voluntarily and usually don't bring requested documents.

"Right now, the Republican-led investigation is essentially a take-them-at-their-word investigation," he said.

A few attendees asked about a bill regarding H1B visas that was "stuck in judiciary."

Swalwell didn't have a specific answer regarding that particular bill, but spoke to the need for immigration reform in general, adding that diversity was important to the enrichment of a community. He also said, however, that local computer software companies, many of which sponsor H1B visas, also needed to seek qualified candidates locally.

When asked about the possibilities for political bipartisanship, Swalwell said that he hoped combating diseases was a cause that both Republicans and Democrats could get behind.

He also pointed to the effort to extend BART from Pleasanton-Dublin up to Livermore as a local bipartisan success, in which he, Republican Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) are working together in an effort to improve public transportation options.

One man asked Swalwell if, considering the temperament of President Donald Trump, whether Congress would take away his authority to pull the proverbial nuclear trigger.

Swalwell's response was that on a gut level, the idea of generals undermining the elected commander-in-chief was awful.

"Now, when you think about the reality of the circumstance, I would say the unfitness for office that Donald Trump has shown, I think all of us are saying thank God that they're plotting to do everything they can to prevent him from recklessly launching a nuclear weapon," he said.

However, he said, hopefully the situation wouldn't reach that point; Congress, he said, should be the check on executive power, not the generals.

Before the town hall meeting began, members of the groups Indivisible East Bay and Alameda4Impeachment held a rally outside the Cal High cafeteria, urging Swalwell to support articles of impeachment being filed against Trump. He did not address the topic of impeachment during the town hall.

"We're here to show our support to Congressman Swalwell in the event that he decides to support Articles of Impeachment," said Andy Cyr, from Indivisible East Bay. "His position in the Judiciary Committee, that would be the first place that it starts up. He has a special role being also on the Intelligence Committee. So not only does he see all the evidence as part of the House investigation, and to Russian meddling in the election, but he also has a role, by being on the Judiciary Committee, in starting the Articles of Impeachment."

Comments

42 people like this
Posted by Ptown dad
a resident of Amador Estates
on Dec 7, 2017 at 6:35 am

This doesn't sound like a "town hall" meeting where elected representatives listen to the community. This sounds like it was a platform for political grandstanding. Against the tax bill because it doesn't legislate that money saved by corporations must be given to employees? Eric has either gone stupid since he doesn't understand that such legislation would never pass Congress, let alone the Supreme Court or he is grandstanding. Which is it? If he has a better idea let's hear it, but his lame excuse for being against the tax bill is ridiculous. Eric has been such a disappointment. He campaigned well but since then he has gone Washington-stupid.


26 people like this
Posted by Attendee of Town Hall
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:05 am

Mr. Swalwell answered questions from his constituents and in some cases voiced his opinion/policy whether he does or does not support certain issues. It was a dialogue, so "Ptwon dad" how is that not listening to his constituents? Can you get up in front of a crowd and answer questions on so many issues? Mr. Swalwell did a great job and continues to work for all the people in his district. He's an everyday man working for everyday people.


17 people like this
Posted by Same old song
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2017 at 11:13 am

Can people not see that this typical smarmy politician is using the same old tactic of telling whoever he's talking to at the time, whatever they want to hear. The guy is a political hack who couldn't care less about the truth, justice, ethics or morals. Get elected at any cost is their mantra. He KNOWS that Justice and the FBI SAID they have NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE that the Russians interfered in our election, yet he keeps repeating the same old saw, figuring that if enough people hear it enough times, they will believe it. Face it Smarmwell, the only way a Russian could interfere in the election is if they were in the booth with you! Can't these people grow up, accept defeat an move on? Don't they get it - people are sick of the corrupt Clintons and their lies, manipulations and money grubbing. Anyone who is truly fair minded, responsible and honest knows what these people and their co-conspirators in the media are all about. Republicans weren't happy with the results of the Obama election, but we sucked it up and got on with it. Believe me, if Republicans made the same noise, false allegations, outright lies, undermining maneuvers and insults to the previous president, it would have been shouted from every roof top in town that they were nothing but a bunch of prejudiced bigots trying to oust a duly elected president.


7 people like this
Posted by Dale
a resident of Happy Valley
on Dec 7, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Something is wrong with this paragraph. Either the writer misunderstood, or The Honorable Eric Swalwell is telling another whopper.
"He criticized the removal of certain deductions, including the mortgage interest deduction, which hits hard in the Bay Area."
I suspect this could very well be more deliberate distrotion by a member of the Democratic Party. The Party of Bill Clinton and Ted Kenedy.
The truth is it is only the State And Local Tax (SALT) deductions that are being eliminated, NOT the Mortgage Interest deduction. This guy is no fool. I think he has intentionally misrepresented the truth here.
Losing these SALT deductions are only fair to those who live in State And Local Governments that are fiscally responsible. It is not fair for the Socialists in CA to be able to deduct their social welfare bloated taxes. With these SALT deductions, they are essentually passing on Federal tax costs to other people to pay. Just like the Democratic Party, raise taxes, then pass them on to other people to pay.
Stopping these SALT deductions are fair.


15 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 7, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Keep up the good work Rep Swalwell and continue to give true information!


13 people like this
Posted by Ridge runner
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 7, 2017 at 8:19 pm

When are we going to get rid of this leftover from the Obama dynasty?


4 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 7, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Dale,

I think either he or the paper meant the property tax deduction which is capped at $10,000. I am all for the SALT and P tax elimination. If we want high taxes that is one thing, to expect the other states to pay for it is another. We need to pay our taxes we voted for. Period.


6 people like this
Posted by MichaelB
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 11:08 am

<While he's not opposed to hunting for sport, he said more needs to be done to advance universal background checks, in light of the hundreds of mass shootings that have occurred since Sandy Hook.>

The 2nd Amendment is not about "hunting for sport" and "universal background checks" are not going to stop mass shootings. More needs to be done to expose Swalwell and members of his party that ignore the Constitution and propose feel good/ineffective legislation.


5 people like this
Posted by MichaelB
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 11:24 am

<The legislation, he said, would allow someone from a state like Idaho, which has very little in terms of background checks, to have a concealed weapon in California, which requires applicants undergo a rigorous psychological exam and thorough background check, obtain an insurance policy and complete a weapons safety course.>

Here's the part Swalwell (conveniently) left out.

California is a "may issue" state as it relates to concealed weapons permits. Most applicants are rejected regardless of their ability to complete the requirements/backgrounds because local police chiefs and county sheriffs (who have the final say in the approval process) tell them they "don't have a need" for it. Only a handful of states still do this.

Contrary to gun control supporters claims there have not been an explosion of "wild west shootouts" after more states changed their laws/issued more permits to applicants.


5 people like this
Posted by MichaelB
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 12:02 pm

<"I believe that we need tax reform," he said. "I think it should be more simplified. But I think it should help working families...It shouldn’t be a way to just allow the people at the very top who are already doing well in this economy, to do better.">

Actually it should be a simple understandable process to collect revenue to run the government and treat all taxpayers the same. Not to redistribute income/wealth based on "need" or to legislate prosperity.

It's none of Swalwell's business to make value judgments about someone "at the top" or "doing well".


Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 8, 2017 at 12:12 pm

@MichaelB

I looked up per capita gun death rate for all of the states. Out of the 50 states, California's overall per capita gun death rate is down at #42. Clearly, California must be doing something right here.

Which states have the highest per capita gun death rates? Here are the top ten states for gun death rates. They're all Red States except for the last one.: Alaska, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Wyoming, Montana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and New Mexico.

Red States with presumably Red State attitudes against gun control and they have the highest gun death rates in the country.


9 people like this
Posted by MichaelB
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:54 pm

@Sam

Gun death rate? Is that where the gun just loads itself and pulls its own trigger? It's laughable what lengths some people will go to trying to justify people misusing firearms (already against the law) as just being "bystanders" and guns somehow "causing" violence.

California ignores the 2nd Amendment. Nothing is being "done right" by harassing law abiding people legally owning guns, trying to confiscate their property, running gun shops out of business, making it progressively more difficult to defend yourself from harm, and then expecting criminals to behave and comply. People are being shot on the streets of Oakland daily and NRA members aren't the ones doing it. The blame society approach to addressing crime/violence is a failure. Swalwell just wants more of the same.


2 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 8, 2017 at 4:57 pm

@MichaelB: "Gun death rate? Is that where the gun just loads itself and pulls its own trigger?"

I'm sorry. I should have provided the link, which is listed below. The overall all "gun death rate" includes murder as well as "death as a result of suicide, self-defense and accidents."

Again, Red States, which presumably have the most lenient gun controls, lead the list of those states which have the highest rates of firearm deaths.

Firearm death rates in the United States by state: Web Link

.....


2 people like this
Posted by KK26
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 9, 2017 at 12:32 pm

You can tell the comments are from the well healed, 1% crowd that still think killing anything leftover from the Obama years is their main priority. I get it, this is an affluent district, but defending this tax bill is just immoral. This GOP has taken a respectable Republican Party into the gutter that is now a party of crooks, pedophiles, and greedy theives. Removing deductions from teachers who have to buy their class supplies because education was decimated, but allowing a write off for private jets?! It’s criminal and I am embarrassed to have ever been a Republican. This is not the party I grew up in! Shame on you defending this tax bill and criticizing Mr. Swalwall for calling out this bill’s issues. Yes, CA is a high tax state, but we have protections most states do not. You don’t seem to mind making all of your money here, and if it’s so bad leave!


6 people like this
Posted by MichaelB
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 9, 2017 at 2:22 pm

@KK26

The Republican bill isn't perfect but I'll take tax reductions and other policies making it easier to do business vs. the alternative from so called progressives any day.

Too many members of Congress in both parties want to use the tax code to pick winners and losers. That should stop and Swalwell (who would just want higher taxes and more regulations on business) deserves to be criticized for the feel good "sharing" provision for employees as a condition of a corporate tax rate reduction. Employees are already paid wages for the hours they work. They can increase their salaries by offering more skills/experience/training to their employers.

What's to defend or keep as it relates to Obama's tax/regulate/redistribute policies - that are the opposite of job opportunities and increased economic growth? I'm not a member of the "1%" and they should be reversed. It's not "prosperity" to raise the number of people dependent on taxpayers/complain about others who have more/expect things to be provided for "free". Deficits/debt levels will never be brought under control so long as this expectation/reasoning remains.


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm

I was with the pro-impeachment demonstrators outside the townhall. We got quite a lot of thumbs up and other indications of support from people going into the townhall. Unfortunately, when Rep. Swallwell had a chance to vote for impeachment this past week, he voted to table Rep. Al Green's impeachment resolution. If you agree with us that it is urgent to get the impeachment process started, please urge Rep. Swallwell to support impeachment by voting for impeachment resolutions and cosponsoring impeachment resolutions such as Rep. Steve Cohen.


6 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 9, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Why is being fiscally conservative a bad thing? We get raped in taxes and get little in return. The Democratic politicians are no less criminal in their behaviors than the republicans. Democrats hold our kids education hostage for tax increases all the time....all to fund their interests first.

Politicians are criminals and we have allowed them to dictate how we interact with them vs us dictating how they interact with us.

We need to apply the highest tax rate to their campaign funds - watch how fast tax rates drop


6 people like this
Posted by Jake Waters
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 9, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Jake Waters is a registered user.

For those calling to impeach Trump, what are you going to impeach him for? You people are merely acting on emotions and bias. Ok, you don’t care for him, but there is absolutely nothing to impeach him for. Have your Democrats in Congress start working to accomplish something for the American people as opposed to be the party of sabotage and hate.


Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 10, 2017 at 12:07 am

@Jake Waters : ".....as opposed to be the party of sabotage and hate."

You do know that Donald Trump, the Republican President now in office, spent years questioning the very legitimacy of the previously elected President, don't you? And a lot of Republicans joined along with him. How's that for "sabotage and hate"?


Like this comment
Posted by Dale
a resident of Happy Valley
on Dec 10, 2017 at 7:53 am

Lets think about that last comment for awhile. Trump spent years saying Obama's claim to be a Natural US Citizen was illigetimate. All Democrats and the media debunk any and all discussion along those lines. Trump gets elected President. What does that tell you about the people voting in this country?


4 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 11, 2017 at 1:46 am

@Pleasanton Parent: GOP tax bill will increase government debt and the deficit. That isn't fiscal conservatism.


6 people like this
Posted by Rider
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2017 at 10:00 am

Rider is a registered user.

I personally felt much safer when Obama was president. With the way Trump is taunting the North Korean dictator, I believe we are as close to nuclear war as we were during the Cuban missile crisis. I don't trust that Trump will diffuse tensions and keep us safe. Does anyone know a good place to get respirators and other fallout protection essentials?


Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 11, 2017 at 12:18 pm

@Rider

When it comes to dealing with tensions or conflicts of any sort, Trump's response is completely predictable. He knows of only one way to deal with any conflict, regardless of whether it is big or small, personal or international:Throw some gasoline on the fire. And if it's not already burning, his response is to light it and then throw some gasoline on the fire.


Like this comment
Posted by Rider
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Rider is a registered user.

@Sam

You forgot to mention that after the fire is burning nice and hot, he'll grab a fire extinguisher, put the fire out and tell everyone how great he is because he put the fire out. Unfortunately, if he lights the match of nuclear war, millions of people will die before the fire is out.


1 person likes this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 11, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Let's add some facts to this discussion. I have lived in both Texas as well as California and have been a lifelong gun person and enjoy shooting. I have purchased firearms in both states and still have an active CCW in Texas. Here are how the two states operate. In Texas when you purchase a firearm you go through a background check the same as California. If you pass then you walk out with a firearm and go on your way. Texas is a "shall issue" state meaning after going through training which includes you demonstrating you are proficient with a firearm you are issued a concealed weapon permit. A concealed weapon permit in Texas also allows you to open carry. If you are caught with a concealed weapon either on your body or in your vehicle in Texas it is a FELONY punishable by either or both 10 years in state prison or a $10,000 fine. In Texas they want to make sure they know who is qualified to have a concealed weapon.

In California, when you purchase a firearm you go through a background check just like Texas but unlike Texas you cannot pickup the firearm for 10 days. Its called a cooling off period which makes no sense but its the way it works. To get a CCW in Alameda County is almost impossible unless you know a politician or are a friend of the sheriff to get one but go over to any county like San Joaquin county a few miles away and they issue them. They are good anywhere in the state which makes zero sense. Even though its difficult and expensive to get a CCW in California if you are caught with a firearm on your person or your vehicle in California it is a MISDEMEANOR. All they do is take you gun and give you a small fine. Why do they do this? IF it were a FELONY the prisons in California would even be more overcrowded than they currently are and just being honest would be more black and brown than they currently are. Why? Because intercity law enforcement is not as good as here and response times are longer so people arm themselves for protection.

Stalwell is either uninformed or lying when he says universal backgrounds checks because we already have them. You cannot buy a gun anywhere that I know of unless you go through one and don't say the gun show loophole because there is not one. You have to go through a check there also. DOJ keeps the records for 6 months.

What people don't want to talk about is creating a database of people who have seen mental health professionals and referencing that against the background check database. you should be phyically and mentally able to purchase a firearm. If you want to stop mass shootings that is the way to reduce them. Most of the mass shooters have either been nuts, have a criminal record, or a Muslim extremist.





1 person likes this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 11, 2017 at 2:42 pm

It should have said
"caught in Texas with a firearm on your body or vehicle WITHOUT a concealed weapon permit it is punishable by 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.


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