Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, on the roof of the AutoPort in Downtown Long Beach, Calif. on January 10, 2013. (Jeff Gritchen / Los Angeles Newspaper
Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, on the roof of the AutoPort in Downtown Long Beach, Calif. on January 10, 2013. (Jeff Gritchen / Los Angeles Newspaper Group) (Jeff Gritchen)
LONG BEACH -- U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal says that the debt ceiling will be raised despite Republican threats because the issue is tied to automatic spending cuts neither party wants to see happen.

Known as sequestration, the cuts total $1.2 trillion divided between domestic programs and defense and take effect March 1.

During an interview late last week at his new Long Beach district office, Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said Congress "has to send a message of stability."

"The question is, will it be done with a gun to our head, to each other and at the last minute, or will it be part of a plan that really begins to look at some of our long-range tax reform (and) responsible kinds of cuts we need to look at?" asked Lowenthal, who was sworn in Jan. 3.

Issues covered by Lowenthal in the one-hour interview included taxes, health care, the environment and partisanship in Washington.

Also discussed was gun control, amid a nationwide debate on gun policies following the Dec. 14 mass killing at an elementary school in Connecticut where a gunman used an assault rifle to shoot 20 children and six adults to death.

The 71-year-old congressman said he doesn't believe the framers of the Constitution intended to guarantee ownership of rifles used by today's military with high-capacity ammunition magazines.

"I think the overwhelming American public agrees with me," Lowenthal said. He called for "responsible" gun laws and a re-examination of how mentally ill persons are clinically treated.

How taxes for U.S. corporations operating outside of the country are collected should be part of tax reform negotiations, Lowenthal said.

"I think we know that we have an antiquated system that has to be fixed to compete in a global economy."

Lowenthal, who supports universal health care, said the country has decided to continue with a free market-based system so we should look at ways to decrease costs on the provider and consumer sides and use technology to create more efficient delivery of services.

He also said fee-for-service health care models are flawed, mentioning managed-care consortium Kaiser Permanente as an alternative.

"We do have different kinds of models that are out there," Lowenthal said.

On other topics, the freshman congressman reiterated plans to see how the federal government can partner with local ports to find resources to help the goods movement get to zero emissions.

He also expressed interest in campaign finance reform, calling the current, money-heavy system "a direct threat to democracy" and advocating public financing of elections.

"I don't think that's realistic at the moment," he said.

His first vote was one in favor of a $9.7 billion Superstorm Sandy relief package after the previous Congress shelved a larger assistance plan. Lowenthal also said he was appointed to the House Committee on Natural Resources, having previously been named to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

After years of prominent positions in Sacramento, Lowenthal said his new offices are in the so-called "freshman attic," the less desirable offices designated for newcomers in the Cannon House Office Building near the Capitol.

A former Cal State Long Beach psychology professor, Lowenthal said sweeping changes are less likely to come from a period of stability, and he sees hope that the turmoil of the last several years will result in a more positive direction for the country and for the way Congress operates.

"People want it to change," Lowenthal said. "They want the institution to change."

Lowenthal was elected in November to represent the new 47th Congressional District running from Long Beach into western Orange County.

Contact info

DISTRICT OFFICE
100 W. Broadway
West Tower Suite 600
Long Beach , CA 90802
Phone: 562-436-3828

WASHINGTON OFFICE
515 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202-225-7924
Website: www.lowenthal.house.gov


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