By Mary O’KEEFE
On Sunday, Congressman Adam Schiff stopped by the Armenian Community and Youth Center to discuss several issues including redistricting, taxes and foreign affairs.
Schiff thanked the members of the center for inviting him to speak. He reminisced about the first time he came to the center as a state senator in the 1990s.
With the new redistricting lines drawn, Schiff will once again be representing several communities that he had when he first ran about 10 years ago.
Every 10 years, after the U.S. Census data is released, the redistricting process begins. Schiff explained that much of the area he had originally represented 10 years ago was back with him again.
“The foothills are back in my congressional district,” he said. “I have basically all of the [Angeles National] Forest, La Crescenta, Montrose, Sunland, Tujunga, La Cañada Flintridge and 10% of Pasadena,” he said. “All of Glendale, 75% of Burbank and then there is Silver lake and Los Feliz, which I had [10 years ago] and Hollywood and West Hollywood.”
Schiff said he would be back in session in Washington, D.C. and the House would be taking up the same issue they ended the session with – taxes.
He predicted that the federal tax cut that is now in place would continue for at least another year adding that it was not a good time to raise taxes.
He said there were things that could be done at home to help grow the economy.
“We need to become a manufacturing powerhouse again,” he said. “We are a great start up [country].”
The United States has brilliant inventors and many things are started in the country, like the iPad, he added.
“It was developed here (in the U.S.) but made somewhere else,” he said.
He stressed the importance of getting the budget under control as well.
“It is hard to put money away for a rainy day when the rainy day is already here and we are under water,” he said.
Another topic of interest to the audience was the progress of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, not only by Turkey but also by the United States. Schiff sponsored the Armenian Genocide Resolution.
In 1915, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Although reports vary, most historians agree that about 1.5 million of the 2 million Armenians living in Turkey were killed. The government of Turkey does not acknowledge the event. Schiff has been a strong voice in support of recognition.
He explained the Armenian Genocide Resolution was more of a grassroots effort with community members and Armenian organizations battling the financially backed and full force of the Turkish government.
There has been some progress; on Dec. 13, 2011 the U.S. House of Representatives adopted measure H. Res. 306, which called upon Turkey to return Christian church properties that were taken during the genocide.
Schiff also spoke of military issues including the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the U.S. is making military progress but is concerned with the stability of the region once troops leave.
North Korea is a concern for the United States as well due to the fact that little is known of the new leader, Kim Jong-un, son of deceased leader Kim Jong-Il.
Some in the audience asked what could be done to support youth in the local communities and through the educational system. Schiff said that grants are available for some support. He stressed education is the key to our success in the global market.
“We can’t compete with [other countries] with [low] wages and we shouldn’t try,” he said. “And we can’t [compete] without a well educated workforce.”