Swalwell talks tax bill, national security and more in San Ramon

Full house at Cal High for representative's last town hall 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."


43 people like this
Posted by SR Res
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 5, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Glad I missed this - were barf bags passed out?

41 people like this
Posted by Tony
a resident of Diablo
on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:55 am

Swalwell is a left-wing partisan pit bull. But in our one-party state you get what you pay for.

39 people like this
Posted by Greg T
a resident of Diablo
on Dec 6, 2017 at 7:01 am

I'm glad I missed this one too. Only thing worse would have been a Nancy Pelosi rambling. I find it so interesting that not one Democrat voted for the tax relief bill. They are in unison trying to trip up Trump. I hope they're held accountable for that vote to their constituents who will soon start feeling the good results of the tax reduction.
Just as President Reagan's tax bill was opposed by democrats unanimously it ends up that it really help the people of the country and the country to soar. I also find it very much hypocritical that the Democrats are now concerned about the national debt going up by over a trillion dollars over 10 years, but they were totally silent during the Obama years when it went up 10 trillion dollars!

33 people like this
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Dec 6, 2017 at 10:55 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Eric (pronounced “Ear Ache”) Swalwell says, "If you're going to lower (the corporate tax rate), there should be a guarantee that profits are shared with the workers."

God, he sounds like a leftist loonie.

Is he blind to what happens to countries that seize profit from businesses in the name of helping workers? It always backfires.

In order for U.S. businesses to compete, we need a corporate tax rate that is similar to our competitor countries. The average tax rate in Europe is 24% and dropping. The UK tax rate will be 19% next year. If we don’t act, the U.S. will be left behind.

Even Obama talked about cutting the corporate tax rate…when he wasn’t busy playing golf, fundraising for leftists, demonizing Republicans, and dividing the country along racial lines.

20 people like this
Posted by Repulsed Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Mr. Swillwell does not represent me. Mr. Swillwell is a far left hack for Pelosi, Feinstein, & Schumer. I am repulsed by Swillwell, sorry Freudian slip, I meant Swalwell.

16 people like this
Posted by Laughable
a resident of Danville
on Dec 6, 2017 at 2:31 pm

This liberal bum doesn’t represent me. What a joke.

2 people like this
Posted by Horton
a resident of Diablo
on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:58 pm

New CA GOP mascot: Web Link

5 people like this
Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 6, 2017 at 7:42 pm

Scott Hale is a registered user.

wow wee you people must represent the minority. 2014 he won 69.8% to 30.2% (clear mandate)
2017 he was reelected 73.8% to 26.2% (another clear mandate).

Gotta love America where the majority decide (except for Prez, which is the electoral college). Or love Calif, which is clearly a blue state. Or love the Bay Area, clearly blue too.

It's an apple.

4 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2017 at 9:22 am

Some of you don't see the picture. Just a question to ask yourself, do you have over $11M in assets? if you don't and just making below $1M per year you will be paying more so the people who are multi-billionaire can have their tax cut. Last I checked we as a community are the middle-class to upper-middle class. I can assure you the GOP tax plan will be taking a lot of money away from you, so they can pay for tax cuts of people not needing any more money. And if you are close to retirement, well the GOP are coming for your "Entitlement" soon... which you have been paying all your life. So if you continue to listen to the divisive issue which are just noise, you are being played by the GOP.

2 people like this
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.


Is your last name Lewis? Because your ideas are funny.

Our country faces a financial crisis because Democrats promise free goodies for all.

When Clinton became president, federal tax revenue was $1 trillion.

Now? It’s $3.5 trillion. Most of that is paid by the wealthy.

Even if the government confiscated everything the wealthy own, it still wouldn’t be enough to pay for the freebees Democrats promise.

Giving away free Obamacare wasn’t enough. Now, Liberals like Swallow-well promise free college for all, free child care, free universal healthcare, free income for life, etc.


Guess what?

There’s no free lunch.

Stop pretending there is.

4 people like this
Posted by Westerner
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:26 pm

It is very interesting how a former prosecutor can become a corrupt congressman. Here is a link to an East Bay Express news story about Swalwell corruption. Web Link

6 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Herman, I guess taking from the bottom 99.9% to pay the top .01% will make everything all better. Universal income we already have after 62 years old, it's called Social Security - everyone pays into it even the illegals. Universal Health Care we have - it called Medicare which is paid for by the people and the illegals. Free college? I wish last time I checked I am still paying for it. Obamacare is not free... it's paid for by everyone. Nothing is free, everyone pays somewhere, but taking trillions of dollars from people that needs it, will kill the GOP. I hope all the GOP in high income area losses their seats and flip congress. They are taking money from people who pays into the system and paying their donors...

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Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Dec 7, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

This tax bill doesn’t “take” anything from the needy. The needy don’t pay income tax. It ain’t their money to take. Money belongs to people who earn it, son.

This tax bill provides a tax cut for all income tax payers, except the people who make $200,000 - $500,000 per year in wages. For them, it’s a punch in the face. It’s Red State payback to all those snooty Blue State professionals who sneer down at those clinging to their guns and religion.

And you’re wrong about Obamacare. It was paid for by taxes on the rich.

Heck, you’re wrong about practically everything you wrote.

4 people like this
Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2017 at 7:50 pm

Scott Hale is a registered user.

Herman: You might want to dig a bit deeper into the 2 versions of the tax reform bill. People in high cost states (Calif, NY etc) will take a 'punch in the face' via reduced property tax write off (or none depending) and lower max mortgage interest write off. Those making way under $200k will see a net-net increase in taxes. course, depends on the final bill.

It's an apple.

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Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Dec 8, 2017 at 8:01 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

You might want to consider keeping quiet and letting people think you don’t know anything rather than opening your mouth and removing all doubt.

The House bill doesn’t matter. What matters is the Senate bill, as Republicans only have a narrow majority there and thus have less flexibility to make changes than the House.

The under $200,000 crowd will be fine. The Senate bill doesn’t touch the mortgage interest deduction for a primary residence. The property tax deduction will be capped at $10,000, which should be enough for most middle class homeowners, particularly those who live outside the liberal urban areas. You forgot to mention the biggest hit of all for Blue State taxpayers, which is the elimination of the state income tax deduction. But with the doubling of the standard deduction, 90% of taxpayers will not claim itemized deductions anyway, so all these deductions limitations are largely irrelevant for those earning less than $200,000.

What do you mean by, “It’s an apple?” What’s that? Do you have a verbal tic or something? You should get that checked out while you still have health insurance.

2 people like this
Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 8, 2017 at 9:36 am

Scott Hale is a registered user.

I see, Herman, you did no research and still don't understand what is in the versions of the bill that is now being negotiated between the House and Senate. You also need to review how a bill becomes law. Kinda confused that 'only the senate' matters.

And, again, you show total ignorance of the details of the 2 versions. Maybe instead of delivering drivel, you should actually find out what the details are and reread the comments here as you seem to have selective comprehension.

You can yell BANANA all you want; it's an Apple.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 8, 2017 at 9:50 am

Herman - you are a good example of ignorance, keep wishing everything will be just fine when the robbers is taking all your money. I don't have a skin in this legislation process, I can still live in my mansion even if congress decide to take 70% of what I make, but I can assure you I am getting a large tax cut. Keep believing in a process which will take money from you and 90% of the people in your community. This wealth transfer will make the country into Kansas, and if you like their economic system maybe you should move there.

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Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Dec 8, 2017 at 10:45 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

If something I said isn’t true, could you be so kind as to point it out?

Only the Senate version matters because that’s what’s likely to become law.

Here’s how it works, son: The House & Senate must pass this by majority vote. The House has 435 members, of which 241 are Republicans. That means House Republicans can lose 23 Republican votes and still pass the final compromise tax bill. The margin for victory is much more narrow in the Senate, however, as it has 100 members, of which only 52 are Republicans. Republicans can lose no more than two Senate Republican votes and still pass this thing (with VP Pence casting the tie vote). That means a small handful of wavering Senate Republican have power over everyone else in these negotiations and these few Republican senators will decide what passes, as any compromise bill will have to go back for a final senate vote where their votes will decide its fate. If no compromise is reached, the House will merely pass the bill that the Senate passed last Saturday, warts and all.

If this process sounds familiar it’s because that’s how Democrats passed Obamacare without a single Republican vote. Karma is a bitch.

I hope you can get the help you need with whatever condition you have that causes you to compulsively say nonsensical words like banana and apple all the time. Perhaps you meant to say apples and oranges?

Just trying to help.

5 people like this
Posted by San Ramon Res
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 9, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Wow, great debating here.

Herman, the fruit reference to an ad for CNN currently airing. You can call something whatever you want but facts are facts. An apple is always an apple regardless of what you call it.

So, the primary reason for this tax bill was to lower the corporate tax, promote job growth in America and raise earnings of the average American, right? I mean that was what the republicans ran on. American companies are flush with cash today, the job rate is the lowest it has been in 17 years and still wages do not rise. What makes you believe that this tax bill will accomplish anything more that making companies even more flush with cash? Do you think job growth will explode? from what 4.1% unemployment? Do you believe that companies will raise salaries?

So by giving people a short term pop in cash by giving a meager tax break the GOP is hoping to win 2020 and that's about it because in 2025 we will be more in debt, tax breaks will expire, and salaries still won't have gone up so the average person will be worse off. How do you see it playing out?

Oh BTW, maybe the 1% did help fund Obamacare but now when people without insurance show up at the ER who will be paying that bill? You and I will be paying that bill. Also, the top 1% got to be top 1% off the backs of their employees so why shouldn't they help out a little more by paying more taxes? Jeff Bezos is worth 100 BILLION. Think about that number the next time you use Amazon and how much he might miss that extra 5% the government might take to subsidize healthcare for people trying to make ends meet.

Like this comment
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Dec 10, 2017 at 10:29 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Thank you for explaining the weird It’s An Apple reference. I haven’t watched TV news in 30 years, and certainly not CNN (Clinton News Network).

I am not advocating for the GOPs tax proposals. I am merely commenting on certain aspects of them.

I don’t believe in government taking wealth from people just because it can. People need to stop lusting after other people’s property.

I agree that folks got to help pay for things like roads & bridges, etc. But Bill Clinton’s government got by with less than half of what it takes in now. That should be plenty. Live within your means.

Big government is a cancer. It must be contained. Swalwell wants it to grow.

Govt. “solutions” usually cause more harm than good. Much of our social ills can be traced to unmarried women raising children, financed by liberal welfare programs.

BTW, emergency room visits have INCREASED since Obamacare passed.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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