Democratic Perspective continued our conversation with Congressman Raúl Grijalva this week by asking about the Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court. “We saw during the last election that it’s going to be big,” he said. “It’s one of the most dangerous things for American democracy in our history.”
“The Occupy movement is an outgrowth of disenfranchisement and frustration,” he continued. “It’s a cross-section of people who have brought attention to the lack of fairness,” he said. “We’ve overturned decisions like this before. In the meantime, at the very minimum, we’re asking for transparency. The organizations should put their names on the ads. Otherwise, as a politician, I have no chance to fight back.”
But despite the problem, the Congressman is optomistic, “American folks are smart. They’ll figure it out if there’s transparency. But we’re stuck with this for the next election.”
Of course, you can’t talk about fairness without discussing the foreclosure problem. So we asked Congressman Grijalva about the “Right to Rent Act” he proposed. The act would allow homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed to stay in their homes at a fair market rent determined by an appraiser. It would also allow the mortgage holder to receive a fair market return on investment.
“Foreclosures have reached a staggering figure,” Grijalva said. “When we went through the act of bailing out banks in the beginning, we expected them to work with people on foreclosures. We wanted to treat foreclosures like bankruptcy in courts to determine the home values. Financial institutions fought that like crazy. They should have kept people in their homes. One out of six homeowners is going through foreclosure. The Right to Rent Act would keep people in their homes and keep neighborhoods whole. Instead, there’s lots of speculation and flipping going on. It’s become an industry.”
When asked about his work on the education committee and as ranking Democrat on natural resources, the Congressman responded, “When I got there, I chose education and natural resources as my committees. If you’re going to work hard, you may as well enjoy it. I feel strongly that we have to protect our public lands. They’re some of the most special places on the planet.”
As for the issues of climate change, he said, “Congress needs to pause for a second and let fact and science guide us. Instead we go after the EPA. That’s wrong. We need to invest in renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions. New Jersey is now number one in large scale solar. But Arizona should be number one. We should be at the cutting edge,” he continued.
“Republican members of Congress want to cut solar. It’s so wrong-headed.”