DOWNTOWN — Bill Bloomfield has a big job ahead of him.
Between now and Nov. 6, he has to convince Westside and South Bay voters why they should choose him, a retired businessman, over 38-year veteran Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Santa Monica) for the 33rd Congressional seat.
In Bloomfield’s eyes, the choice is simple — the partisan politics that has resulted in only gridlock or him, an Independent with a vision to fundamentally change how Washington, D.C. does business.
The choice to run boiled down to a fairly simple decision as well.
“I could run for congress or I could sit back and continue the status quo,” Bloomfield told the Daily Press.
Two years ago, Bloomfield counted himself as a Republican, the party of choice for a wealthy man who made his money in the business world. He’s since left the party and struck off as an Independent, done with the Republicans that valued their social ideology and partisanship over governance.
If elected, Bloomfield promises to bring a fairly radical (and mixed) ideology to Washington.
He’s for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, but wishes every American had a plug-in hybrid vehicle. He’d keep President Barack Obama’s health care reform, but tweak it to allow for a more open marketplace and reduce paperwork for physicians. He’s running for office, but believes that most problems with the country originate with the government.
The Daily Press met with Bloomfield to learn more about the man with a plan to end the stranglehold of hyper-partisanship in the nation’s capital.
(Responses and questions are edited for clarity and length)
Daily Press: What inspired you to run for office?
Bill Bloomfield: I’m running because I’m very concerned about our country. We have a Congress locked up in hyper-partisan gridlock and not working on any of the serious problems that threaten our future, starting with the budget deficit, our very very weak economic recovery, our school systems which are all too dysfunctional on the inner cities and an energy policy only terrorists love. I could go on and on.
I think I’m uniquely qualified to work on the task at hand. Number one, (I’ve had) a lifelong (career in) business. I started several businesses. Number two, I’ve spent a lot of successful time working on election reform, which I think is terribly needed in order to change what’s going on in Washington. Number three, I have tangled with and taken on special interests that traditionally are suppliers of funds for both side of the aisle.
And I’ve taken the first steps necessary to help reform Congress. I got fed up with partisan politics, left the Republican party here, registered as an Independent and I’m cofounder of No Labels.
I got involved with them over two years ago, and I very much believe in what they’re trying to do to get people in Congress to put a priority on solving problems and not worry about the party labels. I also believe in not taking (political action committee) money because I think special interest money comes with a string attached.
DP: So does that mean that only wealthy people can run?
(According to financial documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, Bloomfield has essentially bankrolled his campaign, putting in over $1 million so far this year)
BB: I’m very much in favor of campaign finance reform, starting with Proposition 32, which I’m in favor of and have been involved with it since the drafting stage. The proposal in Congress to require full disclosure of (political action committee) money, that needs to come about.
But look, Congressman Waxman has been there for 38 years. The fact is that we have a system right now that you have no chance to run if you have no name ID and if you can’t figure out how to come up with a lot of money. You either have it yourself or you fund it. Sadly one of the easy funding mechanisms that a lot of people go to is they take money from (political action committees).
(Proposition 32 is a measure on the ballot in November that would restrict fundraising for unions and corporations in California.)
DP: If you’re elected, you’ll be one man in a House of Representatives with over 400 members. How do you propose to end the gridlock?
BB: It’s easier to identify that Republicans are more conservative than they used to be and the Democrats more liberal. But look — I remember, the Reagan administration sadly like it was yesterday and (Thomas) O’Neill was Speaker of the House for six of the eight years, the Democrats controlled the entire house for eight years. But (Thomas) and Reagan forged a really good relationship. They worked together and an awful lot happened during the Reagan administration because the two of them put their politics aside and worked on solving our nation’s problems. That’s simply not happening today and it needs to happen.
For the record, if I could run for all 435 seats, I would. The founding fathers wouldn’t let us do that.
I am one person, I would be the only Independent. The first thing I’m going to do is I’m not going to caucus. I’m not going to agree to choose a side. I’ll meet with Speaker (John) Boehner or Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and remind them that 40 percent of the voters in the country now identify themselves as Independent. The House makes its own rules. Darn it all, it’s time to allow someone to be there and be an Independent and not have to be labeled and choose sides. If they refuse, yeah that’s going to be my cause because I won’t be there long enough to build up a following or get seniority because I’m too old.
I will hold out until they change the rules because that’s what they need to do. Frankly, I am optimistic. I don’t believe Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner are back there to gridlock and not have stuff done. I think that they both in their hearts want the country to go forward … They may not want to publically voice it, but I have to believe in their hearts they would view this as a good thing and that I would get what I want. And what I want is to be on a couple of decent committees without having to choose as far as some of the caucus duties.
No Labels has on its agenda for the 2013 Congress to continue growing the coalition and create hopefully a caucus of 40 House members — Democrats, Republicans and at least one Independent — that will meet and work together on the central issues of our time.
DP: Make the case for someone on the Westside to put you in office over Rep. Waxman, who has 38 years of experience and the influence that comes with it.
BB: No disrespect to the post office of Santa Monica — and I do hope Waxman by the way is able to cause the post office to keep it where it is — it’s not why I’m running. It’s country first. I care about the economy in Casper, Wyo. as much as I care about the economy in Santa Monica.
This is going to sound like I’m blasting the guy, and I don’t mean to, but if he has so much power, how come when I go on a tour of the Veteran’s Administration a few weeks ago it looks exactly like it looked when I was 5 years old? How come the place looks the same except that a lot of the housing is boarded up? One of the nicest things they have there is a brand new soccer field and it’s padlocked because the people who live there can’t use it. It’s been leased to one of the private schools or the AYSO or the community so their child can use it.
Tell me a priority that’s more important than our veterans, with wars we’ve been in since (Waxman’s) been in power? I mean, come on. Seriously.
DP: What’s your take on the Santa Monica Airport?
BB: Full disclosure, I used to fly. I got my license when I was in high school and I’ve flown out of Santa Monica many many times.
The central issue for me, the immediate issue, is safety. Santa Monica Airport’s runway is 5,000 feet. It is smack dab in the middle of an urban center. Van Nuys is not that far away, it has an 8,000 foot runway. One of the things I want to look at when I get in office is this decision on how big the jets can be landing in Santa Monica.
I think the city of Santa Monica should be able to say what happens with that land. It should be up to them if they want an airport or not. Simple as that.
DP: Where do you stand on the Bush tax cuts?
(The cuts lowered the marginal tax rates for nearly all taxpayers, but have been extremely controversial regarding their effect on the U.S. economy. President Obama will have the opportunity to extend them or let them expire.)
BB: I don’t have a problem with some of those tax cuts expiring if they would take the money and, for fairness reasons, use the money to grow the economy. Would it be a good trade off to let the tax on the wealthy expire on earned income and take that revenue and throw it into the corporate tax rate, get rid of the give-backs ad take aways and get our corporate tax rate of 39 percent and crash it down to 20 or 25 percent? Absolutely, where can I sign because that would create jobs.
DP: What is your stance on gay marriage?
BB: BB: I voted no on Proposition 8. I’m in favor of the state of California allowing same-sex marriage. As far as the federal government, they should recognize same-sex marriage in states that have legalized it so I would vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I am against a constitutional amendment shall we say requiring that the state of Mississippi recongnize gay marriage. That may be appropriate some day, but I’m not in favor of it.