LOS ANGELES - This week on "The Issue Is:" an extensive one-on-one with Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), the six-term U.S. Congresswoman now making a run to become the next Mayor of Los Angeles.
In a wide-ranging conversation, Bass joins Elex Michaelson to discuss the ongoing war in Ukraine, rising gas prices hitting drivers at the pump, efforts to combat both crime and homelessness in Los Angeles, women in politics, and much more.
THE ISSUE IS: A NO-FLY ZONE IN UKRAINE?
REP. BASS’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I understand why [President Zelenskyy] would want a no-fly zone, but the problem is enforcing it, because in order to enforce it, you would have to send our planes over to essentially do that, and we just can't go there. But I do think that what [President Biden] has done this week is really important, really tightening the screws on the economy of Russia and also trade. Now it's going to hurt us some too, especially in California, because cutting off Russian oil, where we import a lot of Russian oil, and our gas prices are already too high, so we're going to feel the pain at the pump more than we have so far…"
THE ISSUE IS: RUNNING FOR MAYOR INSTEAD OF ANOTHER TERM IN CONGRESS
REP. BASS’S CENTRAL TAKE: "think politicians are typically viewed like everything you do is a career decision. If it was a career decision, I would stay in Congress and run for a leadership position. But I am coming back because of the crisis that our city is facing. I think we have a public health and a public safety emergency that has not been treated like it's an emergency. 40,000 Angelenos unhoused, people dying on the streets every day. To me, I want to come back so that I can address that, because I feel like we need to deal with it like it is... a natural disaster. And when you have a natural disaster, you pull out all stops, you don't say we're just going to do a little bit here and a little bit there, you do whatever it takes to bring the city back…"
THE ISSUE IS: L.A.’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS
REP. BASS’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I feel like we've treated [homelessness] like it was a chronic illness, one that we didn't expect to get better are expect to cure, and in the time that we were doing that, it metastasized into the emergency that it is today. Now we know that over the years Los Angeles has become less and less affordable, so the problem we have is a problem of affordable housing, so we absolutely need to address that. But we also have to address why so many people are unhoused and the underlying health and social conditions. I think, over time, we've begun to view people who are unhoused as a monolith - they're not all on the streets for the same reason, some people are suffering from health conditions such as mental illness, substance abuse, but there's also children on the streets - there's over 5000 children, some of them are former foster youth. We have people on the street who were formerly incarcerated. We have veterans on the street. We have people who are on the street for economic reasons. So we have to get people off the street immediately. People should not be sleeping on the street. But we also have to address why they are unhoused, otherwise, they'll be right back on the street in a few weeks…"
THE ISSUE IS: COMBATING SOARING GAS PRICES
REP. BASS’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I don't think that there's anything that could be done today. However, I was encouraged that [Governor Newsom] said he is going to look at that. Maybe what we can do is have a little tax holiday for a while because, you know, the gas taxes are high in California, because of our environment, we wanted to take care of our environment. But a car dependent city like Los Angeles, you know, yes, we have more and more public transportation, but we certainly need a lot more. And that's not going to be solved today or tomorrow…"
THE ISSUE IS: RISING CRIME AND REPLENISHING THE POLICE FORCE
REP. BASS’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I do think that Angelenos are not feeling safe right now, all around town. I have talked to so many different neighborhoods, so many different homeowners associations, block clubs, etc., and people are feeling uneasy. They are scared. They are not feeling safe. And so what my proposal calls for, for those neighborhoods that want to see an increased police presence, the way you can get officers on the street immediately is to move those from the desk jobs onto the beat. So I call for hiring civilians, because it is easier to hire civilians than it is to hire officers. But at the same time, the force has lost two-to-three hundred officers and those need to be replaced immediately, it's just that it is going to take longer…"
THE ISSUE IS: WOMEN IN POLITICS
REP. BASS’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Many countries have had women Presidents and we've been behind the curve on that. And I'm hoping, especially now that we have a woman Vice President, that some of that ceiling will be broken and that it will be more acceptable. But, you know, I think that the stereotypes of women absolutely come into play. 'Is she tough enough? Can she actually manage crime?'... I had to manage the state's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. I had to convince Republicans to vote for a state budget that they knew when they pushed that button, they were never going to run for public office again. And so the question of 'are you tough enough,' I don't believe was ever asked of men, but is certainly asked of women…"
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.