Local Politics

Monday, Mar 18 2013 08:45 AM

Congressman McCarthy tackles variety of topics on 'First Look'

BY CHRISTINE L. PETERSON Californian web editor cpeterson@bakersfield.com

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, tackled topics ranging from the future of the Republican party to immigration and entitlement reform during his appearance Monday morning as the first guest ever on "First Look with Scott Cox."

The simulcast can be heard at NewsTalk KERN 1180 and viewed at bakersfield.com as it's brought to you from the Dignity Health Studios at The Bakersfield Californian.

McCarthy, the House majority whip, called into the show to field questions from Richard Beene, president and CEO of The Californian.

Beene acknowledged there's a lot going on "up on The Hill."

"As whip, I have to make sure the votes get through. I spend a lot of time talking to members," McCarthy said.

The congressman said there are "a lot of good people over there," referring to the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington over the last few days. He noted that a lot of the people there are newly elected and bring their views that need to be talked about.

Beene asked McCarthy: Is it possible for the Republicans to win in 2016? He quickly followed that up with questions about immigration reform.

McCarthy said, "We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws."

The congressman said the current system needs reform, adding that Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has been one of the strongest voices on how to do it.

Beene pressed further, asking about the odds of really comprehensive immigration reform.

"I think the odds are really good," said McCarthy, who then turned the conversation to budget issues.

When Beene asked about hope for budget compromise, McCarthy responded, "I am a complete optimist on this."

Beene brought up the issue of entitlement reform, and asked about the Republican plan for it, including Medicare and Social Security funding. McCarthy said a national debate is needed, and overall tax reform -- making it flatter and fairer -- is required.

Beene asked McCarthy's position on gay marriage.

"I support traditional marriage," the congressman said.

Beene noted that for many younger people, gay marriage is a non-issue. McCarthy acknowledged that a younger generation may see things differently, and part of what's great in America is we have a right to have our own beliefs, and disagree.

Beene said there's been a lot of talk about President Obama reaching across the political aisle.

McCarthy quickly retorted: "Let's not overstate what he is doing," adding that Obama took some Republicans out to dinner.

McCarthy said he believes the best way to solve budget problems is for the House to pass a budget out of the House, the Sentate to pass a budget out of the Senate, and then talk and compromise.

The congressman said he's optimistic a budget, and tax reform, can be passed.

He took another swipe at Obama, saying he hasn't missed turning in his March Madness brackets, but has missed turning in a budget.

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