52nd Congressional District Candidates Open Up On Key Issues
October 15, 2012 1:02 p.m.
Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray represents the 50th congressional district. He is running to represent the new 52nd U.S. Congressional District.
Democratic candidate Scott Peters is chair of the Port District and former San Diego City Council president. He is running to represent the new 52nd U.S. Congressional District
Related Story: 52nd Congressional District Candidates Open Up On Key Issues
KPBS Midday Edition 10/15/12 Program Transcript
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Our coverage of election 2012 continues and focuses today on the race for the 52nd US congressional district. Because our congressional districts have a new boundaries the new 52nd District has no incumbent. Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray who now represents the 50th district is running for the seat. Also running is city port commissioner Democrat Scott Peters. Today both candidates will join us but we will hear from them in separate interviews. First I'd like to welcome Congressman Brian Bilbray. Welcome back to the show.
BRIAN BILBRAY: Great to be here.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The 52nd District race is one of the races that is being watched nationally as a possible pickup for Democrats. So lots of outside money is coming into this race. Are you comfortable with the ad that the Republican national Congressional committee is running against Scott Peterson which among other things blames him with the city's pension crisis?
BRIAN BILBRAY: There is no way Scott can avoid the pension crisis issue. He was the president of the Council so I think that part of the whole thing is quite clear that not only did Scott Peters lead the Council into the pension debacle that created the Enron by the sea, but then he says that he fixed it and the voters had to do proper be. By 60% there was a vote basically by the voters a referendum on Mr. Peters answer and they voted no to Mr. Peters and yes to moving with Jerry Sanders proposal to move ahead and have a stable platform and on top of that we follow on and I get calls from people over at the port district that said he didn't propose a thing called negative amortization over there. And that really set off the alarm for all of the people at the port. And finally one of the board commissioners finally had to lecture Mr. Peters that this is not the city we are not going to allow that to happen here and (inaudible) totally avoided that approach.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Congressman you reference Mayor Jerry Sanders and his proposal for proposition B.Mayor Jerry Sanders has actually credited Scott Peterson helping to reform the city's pension so that we don't have a crisis down the road. So he's being congratulated by the Mayor.
BRIAN BILBRAY: He's not being congratulated by the Mayor for Mr. Peters opposing proposition B (and I think they) are actually moving proposition B to straighten it out so I think they've got to remember that look, people make mistakes, but to be in denial of the problem and opposed proposition B to straighten it out and have to oppose the mayor's proposal and then to go over to the port and say I want a little more flexibility and be the only commissioner there are talks about not only a mistake but a pattern down the line and that's the kind of pattern you don't want to go to Washington and talk about Social Security Medicare where you have to have the most fiscally responsible approach to guarantee that for our seniors. That's we really have to watch out that you don't want because somebody who shows you they make mistakes locally were you can correct it with the citizens initiative by prop proposition B and send up somebody make those mistakes to Washington where there's no such ability for the voters to correct it.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Considering redrawing lines of the 52nd District which now puts more Democrats and independents then the 50th district that you represent have you changed or softened your views on issues like immigration?
BRIAN BILBRAY: Actually my positions have been graded between one and 100, one being the most liberal and 100 being the most conservative I've been rated for a lifetime at 54. That is about as moderate as you can be but it's not because I think where is the middle? I think where's the answer. It's like immigration. For an issue for a lot of times. The one place the Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree is why are we continuing to give tax deductions to the people who are actually causing the problem and that's not the immigrants, but the employers who are paying people to come here illegally and exploit them. That's someplace the Republicans and Democrats should agree that we should stop giving tax deductions and that's one of the tax deductions that we should eliminate with a lot of others. There's a place like guys like de Schultz and Lou Dobbs agrees on immigration of those to agree is not just a partisan, it's bipolar. That's where we can start agreeing on a very controversial issue and then we can talk about the other issues. But that is one place you started working with guys like Bob Filner you work with what you've got it, and first and that learn to work together and take on whatever issues to move along. That is why I've been called by no labels organization a go to guy who can work across the aisle. 90% of my legislation has been bipartisan. That's second to none.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But you still think the Constitution should be changed so that not everyone born in the US is automatically a US citizen?
BRIAN BILBRAY: I have never said that the Constitution should be changed.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In 1995 you proposed legislation
BRIAN BILBRAY: I never said that said subject to the definition of jurisdiction and somebody who comes here as a tourist is not subject to the draft and is not subject to treason. Diplomats children do not get automatic citizenship right now. I have never proposed changing the Constitution. What I have asked is that we look at the legal definition that was applied to diplomats and apply those, that steam standard to anybody who's not subject to the jurisdiction. I think everybody would be appalled if some terrorist coming in from Saudi Arabia was drafted, drafted into the Army. It's a that was absurd.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But you are using it for people who come that illegally from México.
BRIAN BILBRAY: It happens if anyone who is not totally subject to the jurisdiction. It's near and dear to me my mother was an Australian immigrant who was very concerned about my status and what my rights would be as an American citizen. So she came into the US. The fact is though I could have borne been born anywhere in the world and still be subject to the jurisdiction because my father was a naval officer and a US citizen. I just needed to file. So straightening up these misconceptions are very important but changing the Constitution is not one of them.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's go through some of your voting record. You talk about having that 50% rating about being bipartisan. But the Washington Post voting tracker finds that you voted with Republican majority 90% of the time. How does that square with the claims of being middle-of-the-road?
BRIAN BILBRAY: What they do is there are procedural votes that Bob Filner will vote with the Democrats over here. I will do with this on procedure how you are going are you going to bring things forward. They are all procedural angles. What you are really looking for is when you have people like the national Journal looking at substance of votes that are actually going to be up or down votes. You know, you sit there and you may vote on groups like this so-called the coal thing they try to pass. I voted against that. I know that clean coal is logical as safe cigarettes. As somebody that's actually been on the air resources Board, worked on clean air, I know we are wasting money and time messing with call rather than going to cleaner technologies. That vote would be counted as one against the aisle. These other votes that are procedural those are always going to be thrown out there but the substance ones is the one that the natural Journal national Journal etc. those are the ones that really affect how we move.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's talk about a substance vote you voted with your party a number of times and that is you voted to repeal the affordable health care act, Obamacare. Would you continue to vote against that if reelected?
BRIAN BILBRAY: First of all I would not vote on a bill that the public has never had a chance to know what is in it. No matter what you think about the healthcare issue, the concept that Americans are told that you will know what we are voting on after we pass it, you don't get to participate, number two, that you don't do anything to make it affordable. You've got to understand that was a County supervisor here for 10 years. I provided a safety net to people that were needy here and I saw what the tort issue, the liability issued for trying to afford to feed the poor. The wealthy don't get affected. We've got to get the lawyers, the trial lawyers out of the system and we've got to break the monopoly of the insurance companies. What that act did, it wasn't making anything affordable. But then you to look at the so-called class act that was going to pay half of the welfare bill. The class act is now been abandoned by the frustration knowing it doesn't work. That was 50% of the way of paying for it at a time Audi estimates for the cost of the system is twice as high as it was before. We need to go back. We've got to reengineer and enforce both sides. The Republicans have got to be willing to tell the insurance companies sorry, Joe we are going to break up your state monopolies. Remember there was talk about car insurance. You can buy car insurance across the border but the federal government doesn't allow you to buy health insurance across the state boundary. A Republican should do that but the Democrats have to tell their lawyer friends people like Mr. Peters, sorry guys health insurance is more important than your right to sue and we've got to look at this. You know Europe doesn't have this kind of tort issue. You can't talk about their healthcare system and how great it is and ignore the fact that they do not have this huge burden of very wealthy lawyers using the system as a cash cow.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So if reelected you would continue to vote against implementation of the affordable health care act?
BRIAN BILBRAY: I vote against anything that is not sustainable for my children and gratitude grandchildren. We need to go back. We I would vote on this you on pre-existing conditions we would waive litigation go to mediation program. That is how we pay for the Democrats and Republican should be forced to vote on both of that. If you want kids at 26 to be able to be covered by your parents then force both sides to go to break up the insurance monopolies. Those are the telephone so we can make. We made a lot of promises that this is going to provide you all kinds of healthcare. We stuck in a lot of hidden taxes that nobody's got to explain but it still isn't sustainable and if somebody that's worked on environmental issues as long as I do I know you've got to have a sustainable effort if you're really going to do it. We are quick to make a lot of promises of what we are going to do for you in Washington but we are not very good at doing the responsible things of taking care of it must as you were saying when I click the immigration we are quick to take on the businessman because they contribute to the campaigns what we ought to be up there telling them no, join the going to continue to hide you and we should be subsidizing the lawyers or the insurance companies.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You voted for the Ryan budget that would change Medicare for those under 55 into a voucher system. That undercuts the idea of Medicare being a guaranteed medical insurance for older Americans?
BRIAN BILBRAY: First of all I voted for the most part a bipartisan bill that passed. I voted against the right wing bill. I voted against the left-wing bill. The president's bill did not get one vote. I voted for the bill that had the most bipartisan support. What it does, it is exactly like the voters in San Diego did with the pension program. It guarantees seniors that the contract we have with seniors will always be there for seniors. What it does for young people to make sure that they know it is sustainable, again, the word sustainable, that they will have a program 10 or 20 years in from out that they will be able to draw on that young people have an arrangement for Medicare like the Congressional plan, the federal program that every federal plea has. We are also taking a look at your people in the future when they come along and they are millionaires why do we continue to subsidize millionaires for services they do not need to. It's much better to have a sustainable program but tell them now, tell them 10 or 20 years before they are depending on it. But we've got to guarantee unlike my opponent who said that he would cut Social Security and Medicare we do not need to tell seniors that. We don't need to touch any cuts to the seniors program but we need to make sure we have a program for the people.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But the vote that you cast would end Medicare as we know it.
BRIAN BILBRAY: No it would not. It would basically give a choice to the younger people what kind of programs they want to go they can stay in the existing system if they trust the existing system. So that program is right there and guaranteed along the line. So this whole thing of saying it's got to be one way or the other and again this is the kind of thing we should be talking about now and addressing. These kinds of blueprints are the one thing we've got to address. My God, we are talking about nothing radical, we are talking about trying to balance the budget in four years. I was there working with Bill Clinton and balance the budget in the 90s. I know what it takes bipartisan effort back and forth greater know how tough and I way you attack for doing that, and people always find throwing grandma into the snow but we work together to do that. That's the kind of effort but we've got to start with at least having a goal 40 years from now doing the responsible thing and that's what we are working on.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to leave this alone because we have to move on but obviously if you have some people in Medicare and some people and doctors in another program, it into Medicare as we know it.
BRIAN BILBRAY: I'm sorry but I'll tell you first about the federal system is a menu system that you can work at. You take a look at the healthcare system that members of Congress and the federal government has and it's a menu system. In this is also a guaranteed system that the people could choose the traditional system. So that always will be there.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You've taken the Grover Norquist pledge never to raise taxes on anyone while in Congress. Is tying our hands like that really a wise move?
BRIAN BILBRAY: Not when you've got a $4 trillion tax increase looming over our heads in reality all the talk about tax increases is political posturing because in fact everybody's going to be talking about not raising taxes, but how much we are going to pull back the tax increase that is looming now. And where we fight that
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You mean the end of the Bush era tax cuts?
BRIAN BILBRAY: That is across the board going to be the issue we have a $4 trillion plus we have the so-called affordable healthcare act one of the largest tax increases on the middle class. That we are addressing the fact that Todd we make sure that doesn't put us into a double dip. Another big recession and shock the system. The president understands we need to do that. So talking about above and beyond the taxes that are already coming on board to talk about adding anymore on what we ought to be talking about and I will say distinctly not what we are going to raise taxes on but the deductions we are going to take away and I've taken heat from people on the right forcing look it up in corn ethanol should be getting a tax subsidy. I don't think that a lot of these subsidies intact recommend taking a look at eliminating the tax subsidies. Like I said with the immigration issue there's a good example. Quit giving people tax deductions for doing things that they should be doing. I'll give you an example. If you look at the alternative minimum tax my family with all of our medical costs could not deduct the cost of medical services for my children. We could deduct that. But somebody very wealthy like Mr. peters can deduct charitable contributions from his alternative minimum tax. Are you really thinking that charitable contributions are really important to her family that medical services? That's the kind of thing we need to straighten out so instead of talking about we're going to raise my text above and beyond what we've already seen on the horizon we should be talking about why are we continuing to give money away to people that don't need it and should be getting it. That is where we can raise revenues.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You've been very critical of your opponent Scott Peterson's refusal to disclose his tax returns. But candidate Mitt Romney hasn't released his tax returns before 2011. You have released your tax returns for the last three years. Have you asked your party's nominee to release more information?
BRIAN BILBRAY: Actually my party's nominee had released the information at least one. Was kind of hard for me to be too hard on him when Lori Saldana and I asked Scott Peters where's all your personal wealth coming from it's one thing to be personally wealthy but that use over one million dollars of the money that's coming from your personal wealth and put it into a campaign and you don't Lori so then you would have been the nominee for the Democratic Party if it hadn't been for Mr. Peter saying right on your show I chipped in a little. $1 million is a little, Peter? That is one of those things I believe the full disclosure issue should really get in there because these things can get kind of
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: My question was about Mitt Romney, have you contacted him?
BRIAN BILBRAY: Yes and he has put in I don't know how many years but he's put in a few years on there. I'm still waiting for the Democrat nominee in this county to issue one year of it. And you know, these things matter because when you have situations like Mr. peters as a Council member who hired the crew report which ended up getting almost $20 million. It wasn't until later that somebody realized my God, there was I forget the number something like 27,000 stocks bought by his family at the time he was doing this. These are all conflicts that maybe he doesn't or does want the public to know, but we should all be able to know by seeing my tax returns.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are up against the clock. I have one last question for you originally invited both of you for debate and you declined that and said you wanted to be interviewed alone.
BRIAN BILBRAY: I have no idea my attitude right now my biggest issue is to be blunt with you I've got a lot of things going on, there are a lot of things that are not politics and to be really straight with you, as you know what's going on with our family and frankly there are some things more important than politics and if that means cost me the election, then so be it. And you know, basically, family priorities take priority right now.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you for speaking with us, Congressman.
BRIAN BILBRAY: Thank you very much.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: After a short break we will return with Congressman Scott Peters. He is running for the 52nd U.S. House seat here in San Diego. It's 12:27. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Our 2012 election coverage is focused on the candidates running in the 52nd Congressional District today. Joining us now is Democrat Scott Peterson, former San Diego City Councilman and current member of the San Diego port commission. Scott, welcome to the program.
SCOTT PETERS: I just want to also extend my condolences to the KPBS family for the loss of Gloria Penner who was a fixture here whenever I came here before. This the first time I've been here and I know we'll miss her.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes we do thank you for that. I started by asking Congressman Bill. He's comfortable with the ad spot by the national packs that are running against you. Are you comfortable with the at the national, Democratic national campaign committee is running against buying building?
SCOTT PETERS: Well I mean I know people are getting really tired of the tone of the ads and I understand that. As I think you implied we don't really have anything to do with the content of those national ads. But I do think to talk about someone's record is fair. I think that generally the ones that are being put out on my opponent talk about his record and they are kind of tough but I think it's a tough record to defend.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well one of the commercials that I've seen basically castigates Brian Bilbray for taking a US taxpayer pension. And Congressman Bob Filner who's running for mayor is getting US taxpayer pension, so is that fair?
SCOTT PETERS: You know I think the context for that is that Mr. Bilbray has criticized me for being a government employee and for my own personal wealth. Which is point out that I begrudge him his $175,000 taxpayer salary, or his to government funded pensions or lifetime healthcare that he voted for for himself or the millions of dollars in the bank. I just expect to be criticized, lectured for my own family success.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But you are begrudging him that for those very reasons.
SCOTT PETERS: That's not my have, the one about the---
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The US taxpayer pension said Brian Bilbray is getting.
SCOTT PETERS: You're asking about the Democratic Party's ad.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So you're basically distancing yourself from that?
SCOTT PETERS: We try to present a positive view of my own record. Return to talk about my record and the pension reforms in San Diego. Return to talk about the real story on Medicare and Social Security and those are the issues I think we are focusing on in our campaign.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I have to apologize to you right up front this is a very long question. There is a question eventually, okay. You were pulled into a KPBS new source investigation recently because of an e-mail. The e-mail that you released has UT CEO John Lynch asking you how you are going to vote as a board commissioner on extending the Dole Company lease. The complete e-mail says if the lease is extended the you team might have to campaign to disband the board.
SCOTT PETERS: And it would be an issue in the campaign.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And in response you do not tell Lynch how you will vote but you do say the vote possibly could be rescinded. I'm wondering what you think that response tells voters about you?
SCOTT PETERS: Of that was a very professional response first of all I could say that I thought the lease was a good thing for the board and the region certified say I was going to vote for it I certainly imply that although I would never say before he heard public testimony exactly how I was going to votes I would never say in any bellows going to vote a certain way but it certainly seemed to build a good thing for the board in the city and I think it was. We had a summons was easier usually a developing or any other person sometimes the lines are fuzzy threatening a port commissioner in the context of a campaign or in the context of dismantling the part with taking the vote. When I try to get him as information to correct his misimpression because it wasn't the vote could be rescinded, but there's usually proficiency in the leases to terminate early if we decide that's all we want to do which is what he was looking for. I tried to tell him that wasn't there in order to defuse it so we could move forward the ports vote but I did not let that the term yes doing my job as a trustee of the title to my continued stand up for people who work at the port, the waterfront and also for that military which was uses the 10th Ave., Marine terminal.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Mr. Bilbray says that you are mischaracterizing his stance on Medicare that you are going around scaring older voters. You make the point that the around the Ryan voucher plan does not affect current Medicare recipients?
SCOTT PETERS: Well, there are two votes. The first right vote, the right budget you can look at what he said I think you were discussing this with him in the first half hour. It was the Wall Street Journal that said attended Medicare as we know it and since people in with a voucher or premium support, whatever you want to call it, but a certain amount of money into a marketplace that has not been shown to be competitive enough to reduce prices for seniors. So you still face the prospect that you are going to have enough money to get the healthcare you need and today I believe it is still the case that the largest cause of personal bankruptcies is the inability to pay your medical bills. So we're going to get back into that kind of paradigm and that is wrong. We have to move away from that. And I would think that is much scarier for seniors than the things I've been talking about which are things like negotiating a lower cost for prescription drugs. About getting rid of inefficiency and fraud using electronic medicine, wireless medicine for efficiency and changing the healthcare system in general from a sick care system that talks about visits and rewards procedures to a healthcare system that also rewards prevention. When we talk about cuts I'm talking about cutting costs and he's talking about cutting benefits.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: However in some of the ads that I have seen and some of the comments that I've read it doesn't seem like you are making a clear distinction between the people who are on Medicare now and the people who are under 55 who might be affected by the change in Medicare.
SCOTT PETERS: I guess that he would like to draw that distinction but I still think if you are 53, which is young to me, that you still face the prospect of going into this marketplace that has not evolved into one that produces lower cost to competition. And obviously we have to work on that and we are not there yet. I think the distinction you raises a little bit overdone because I think it threatens more than just those people 55 and above.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You support the president's health care plan the affordable health care act, Obama care.
SCOTT PETERS: I think it is a good step forward. I think we have a lot of work to do on affordability. I would not declared a success because I think we have more work to do.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay let me follow up with that but first of all polls numbers show that Mr. Bilbray pointed out that the plan does not have a real swell of popular support. What do you tell voters about why you support basically the basics of the affordable health care plan?
SCOTT PETERS: Like I said I was not in Congress to create this and I was not privy to the sausage making that went on. You know, and I think that the situation before and was really untenable. We had healthcare costs rising, was quick to break the bank from the federal budget perspective so I appreciate that something had to be done. Think there's a lot of work left to do. And I would not declare it a victory. What I would do is, I don't think it's useful to vote 33 times to repeal it without offering an alternative which is what Mr. Bilbray has done. And his colleagues. He suffered to criticisms of it that could've been introduced as amendments or as changes to the law. If he thinks that tort reform is important or he thinks that interstate competition among interstate interest insurance companies is important to that as amendments or changes to the law whether they are good or bad that's how we are going to have to progress and whoever takes office in January is going to do with Obama care that is going to be colossal let's stop talking about repealing it, which took according to CBS, to acts of Congress this time and $50 million of taxpayer money to get nowhere.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So what would you do to change it?
SCOTT PETERS: I think we have to concentrate, we are now on a model that maybe everyone would not have picked, that is basically the Romney model from Massachusetts. That depends on private insurance companies. We are going to have to make sure there's competition and whether that means inter-state competition or adding in a public option or something like that there may be things we have to do. We have to pursue more affordability. And if it makes sure that insurance companies are competing we make sure they do
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you support the deferred action deportation policy introduced by the Obama administration?
SCOTT PETERS: Yes.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you, let me just explain that, that is a policy that the president implemented this summer which, for some young illegal immigrants who came here as children and went to high school and so forth, that they are not going to be subject to deportation for the next two years. At least. Therefore, do you see illegal immigration as a problem? Mr. peters?
SCOTT PETERS: Well, we need a policy that is tough, fair to taxpayers and practical. I mean, it is a problem. The US Chamber of Commerce came up with comprehensive immigration reform that Mr. Bilbray thinks is too left-wing and the idea is we have 11 million people here who are undocumented and the only answer Mr. Bilbray has provided is that we should deport them which is very impractical. We all agreed that the board should be secure against crime, drugs, human trafficking or getting guns across. I think that is, everyone agrees with that. Now we have to figure out a way to rationalize it. We don't view the border I think enough as an opportunity. For instance one of the things that's been left languishing is the idea of border crossing. You know, if you have a 45 min. average delay the border crossing at Costco for about 3 ½ billion dollars per year. In economic activity. And we've seen delays at San Ysidro of two hours to four hours and we haven't done anything about it. Mexico is finished with their side of the new border crossing that will facilitate faster passing which will help them by the way and also their economy by helping them will decrease the pressure for people to come over here. And we haven't done anything for $121 million that the piece of infrastructure we need to invest in to create economic activity on the side of the border and to deal with the border in a rational way. Mr. Cooper has been completely absent on that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Congressman Bilbray has pointed your vote to underfund the pension plan back in 2002 as evidence that you are fiscally irresponsible and would be the same way in Washington. How are you going to handle funding votes in Washington if you couldn't figure out the financial situation here in San Diego?
SCOTT PETERS: Well I think that is an unfair breed of my whole record. You know the city of San Diego had three decades of bad pension practices and underfunding and unfortunately in my first couple years as a councilmember I followed the same practice. But then we got smart about it. We realize we have a problem we impaneled a pension reform commission, hired to outside experts, asked them what went wrong and how to fix it and follow the debt recommendation. We banned future underfunding, we needed employees pay a larger share of the benefits which the city of California started last month we did that in 2004 we held the line on raises, which we will continue to do but basically employees haven't had a reasons to thousand five. And we negotiated a new pension system for employees that would save about $23 million a year. At the end of our long deck it was the SEC that sets the idea was a model for other cities to follow and it certainly stands in stark Congress contrast to Congress for you see years of bad practice in Congress. You're just pointing fingers at each other and they haven't even started. People don't expect Congressman Millbrae to have solved the problem in a year or two but they can reasonably expect that he would get started and they haven't. I would say one of the things as you can tell he signed up with the two-party with this pledge never to raise taxes on anybody by a dime. Millionaires billionaires oil companies. You can't be a moderate, you can't solve a problem if you take a hard line that's like our campaign has gotten support not just Democrats but Independents like Nathan Fletcher former Chamber of Commerce chairman and even a Republican like Malin Burnham just want to see things work and are tired of politics and finger-pointing.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What about the plan that Mr. Bilbray was talking about that he says that you put forward while on the board commission for negative amortization. Can you tell us about that?
SCOTT PETERS: I didn't even vote for that. I mean it is a strange criticism. The actuary has written a letter making a recommendation to the city the pension board we were going to pass that on and ultimately we decided to pass it on with a more conservative recommendation. I did not even vote the way that he is talking about. But the port is another good example of success. We can't, we were having a problem with revenues and expenditures we cut the workforce by 15%. We had really incentive program to get rid of excess management saved by 26 million dollars here. A month or two ago we got the credit upgraded at the port. Congress has gotten our federal credit downgraded twice and I don't know many other local entities that could say in California in particular that they got a credit upgraded. So when you look at the record I think we have a lot of lessons to teach Congress here from both the city of San Diego after a long period of time working on the issue but also at the port.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Just to be clear you are saying that negative amortization plan was not yours, you did not put that forward?
SCOTT PETERS: We voted, I did not vote for that. We talked about it. I asked the question. Ultimately we took a different course which is how legislation works, right? You are responsible for what you vote for, I think.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And we talked before or during the primary about tax returns and Mr. Bilbray has been very critical of you for not releasing your tax returns. And referred your answer to that, and you can of course give it again, but I'm going to put a second question on that. Did you know your entire income, I mean your whole family's entire income would be underscoring if you decided to run for Congress?
SCOTT PETERS: Yes and it is, and it's available. I'm in a little bit of a bind because my wife is invested in a number of businesses and the way they are structured the income from the businesses shows up on personal tax returns. We file jointly and it's not fair for competitors to be able to see that. So here's what I've done. We discussed everything we own. So you can everyplace we are getting money from or have any kind of investment interest has been available for 12 years. I think most people frankly boring haven't looked at it because it's all there if you want to see what we are and where possible conflicts might arise it's all available contrast that with Mr. Bilbray because if you really want to know about campaign money, he's going to be getting from Grover Norquist PAC $1.5 million of investment in TV. And he's voted against any requirement that those PAcs be disclosed who's making contributions. So you know everything I own. You know every possible conflict and everything I own has been made public but you will not know who is funding Mr. Bilbray's campaign over the next two weeks because he's refused to require disclosure.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I guess the taxi issue sometimes gets down to a judgment and transparency call, though. Because of the forced you to run for Congress. You are running willingly, and therefore it might have been a good idea to say well, look I'm sorry about your competitors but we need to get the tax returns out.
SCOTT PETERS: Maureen, there is nothing people can't know about what we own and where we get our money. That's all available.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay well let me ask the last question, the 52nd District is what they call in play this election because it is almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats with a significant amount of independent voters. Why should a Republican living in the 52nd district vote for you?
SCOTT PETERS: If you think Congress is working well that you should send the same people back. The fact is we have a senior member of the majority party comes back to us and tells us that sequestration, which is this fiscal cliff is a good example of Democrats and Republicans working together. These are not your parents Republicans. These are tea party Republicans who have said that no one will pay more taxes including millionaires, billionaires and oil companies. We cannot balance the budget in a balanced way without some sort of moderation and I think a lot of Republicans are supporting me because they realize that this has just gotten out of hand and like Nathan Fletcher who felt that the Republican Party had left him, a lot of those folks are coming to me and I think we can make a change. We can do better.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking acidic report Commissioner Scott peters, thank you very much.
SCOTT PETERS: Thank you.