As part of our Speaker Series on California’s Future, PPIC is inviting elected leaders across the political spectrum to participate in public conversations. The purpose is to give Californians a better understanding of how our leaders are addressing the challenges facing our state.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and PPIC president Mark Baldassare had a wide-ranging conversation in Sacramento last week. They focused on the relationship between California and the federal government in several areas, including tax reform, immigration, health care, water policy, wildfire management, and fuel emissions standards.
When asked about the impact of the recently passed federal tax law on Californians, he emphasized the bigger economic picture. The focus, he said, should be on the overall Republican agenda and whether it inspires optimism about the future: “Do you feel better off? How many quarters of economic growth have you had?”
McCarthy criticized the state’s leadership for its “backwards thinking” on the gas tax and other issues, and its oppositional stance to the Trump administration. He also talked about the need for bipartisan compromise in Congress. “I try to work with everybody,” he said, citing the work he did with Senator Feinstein to pass “the first major piece of water legislation in quite some time.” He returned to this theme after the conversation was briefly interrupted by a pro-DACA demonstration, asking why we can’t “sit down and communicate with one another” and decrying “elected officials who stand up and say ‘Divide us, not unite us’.”
Nonetheless, he seemed confident about finding ways to address major issues. About immigration policy, he said “I think we’re going to solve this problem” in the next congressional session. Asked about the 2020 Census, he said that Congress is making sure there will be an accurate count. “It is a big job,” he added, “and this is always the big fear before a census—are we prepared for it?”
Finally, when asked why he wants to become Speaker of the House, he said, “I want to make sure a Republican can be Speaker,” so that the party can continue to enact its agenda. He went on to describe the electoral landscape leading up to the November midterms, offering up a key takeaway: “This will be the year of the woman.”