Jack Orswell wants to bring politics back to basics

This is the second installment of the COURIER’s candidate profile series.

To Jack Orswell—Republican and 27th Congressional District candidate running for election this November—the key to change is through conversation, namely the kind that is not currently taking place in congress.

Mr. Orswell is a first-time politician but a veteran of government service, as a former FBI agent and a reserve police officer. He plans to bring congress back to the basics of communication if elected to represent the newly redistricted 27th district.


Q. You are a small business owner, former FBI agent, reserve police officer and youth leader. Why now enter the realm of politics?

A. I am frustrated with congress and what is not happening. It’s party politics; don’t even listen to the Democrats if you are a Republican and vice versa, and that isn’t good for America. The national debt will probably be about 16 trillion dollars next month and that’s a burden to my family, my kids and my grandkids. I can’t sit back any longer and not do something.


Q. What will you bring to congress that is new and different?

A. I’ve worked with members of congress during my time with the FBI. I’ve been to Washington, I know the Washington politics and I know how the games are played, but I can’t sit back and watch congress do the partisan bickering and sacrificing the future of my kids and grandkids.


Q. The current political climate isn’t collaborative or based on compromise. What do you propose?

A. That we listen to each other. We have national problems, we have international problems and we need to solve them. We don’t have the right to control the political process by failing to work with other members of congress. Last time I checked, we were all Americans. It’s with that spirit that I want to work with members of congress. For example, Adam Schiff is running for congress in the district that covers the western portion of Pasadena. The 27th district covers 90 percent of Pasadena, the other 10 percent is represented by the 29th district and if we are going to represent Pasadenians, we are going to have to work together. Even if it’s Adam Schiff, a Democrat that is elected to the 29th district, Pasadena wants us to do something. I will work with whoever gets elected…We need to budget, to maintain our national defense, we need to come up with a whole new tax problem, but the only way to do that is to work together.


Q. A huge focus for this election is job recovery. Can you tell me about the fiscal cliff you reference in your platform, with the uncertain job market and the role of government contributing to a “sluggish recovery”? How do we change this?

A. The fiscal cliff is a combination of tax cuts that are going to expire January 1: income tax, corporate tax, capital tax…name a way they can tax us and those rates are going to revert back to higher rates. The estimate is that each family in America is going to be taxed another $4000 next year. Let’s say I want to buy a new car and I pay $350 a month in car payments. That’s about $4000 or so a year. With congress’ indecision or short term solutions—“Oh, we will extend the tax cuts until the end of the year”— if I am buying a car for the next 4 or 5 years, I need to have a longer window of opportunity. My proposal is to make the tax cuts permanent and then let congress work together to come up with a new tax system that everyone can agree on.  

The fiscal cliff also refers to the mandatory spending cuts that go into effect because last year congress could not figure out how to cut spending. If we know that those cuts are coming, we know that businesses around here are going to be hurt or shut down. Those spending cuts and the tax increases are causing businesses like mine, consumers like us, to not do anything. We are frozen, waiting for a decision to be made, and it’s that indecision of congress that is costing me, you and southern California.

If they increase the taxes, then we as consumers will adjust to that. If they decrease taxes, we will adjust to that also, but we need to do something. Holding off the tax cuts does not solve the problem.

Our economy is 70 percent dependent on consumers, and we consumers are sitting and waiting for congress to make a decision.  


Q. Fair taxation is another important issue to you. You have said, “We must limit our government to providing us only with the services we need, not the services we want.” What are some of those services that should be cut and how do you propose we fix this?

A. When Gerald Ford became president, he said, “A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.” We are at that point. The government is outspending its revenue and, because of that, we are putting that burden onto our kids and our grandkids. If that burden continues to grow that way, our grandchildren will have nothing but debt. They won’t be able to have any government services because all the revenue will be going toward servicing the national debt.

That’s why we need to sit down and determine what’s necessary versus what’s good. Is it nice to have funding for the arts and concerts and music? Sure it is, but is it a necessary thing and is it something we can afford now? Is it necessary that we have 11 aircraft carriers or can we get by with 10? I don’t know those answers because I am not privileged with that information, but that is something we as congress need to do. We need to sit down and talk with the Pentagon and decide what tools are needed to keep Americans safe. We need to ask those questions of the people who know the answers to determine what is necessary and determine what we don’t have the money for. If we generate more jobs and more revenue, we will then put that on the list of things to do.


Q. While you agree with the intent of the national healthcare system, you feel it’s also wasting valuable resources. What should be done?

A. In property insurance, there is special insurance to cover hazards for those that live in the mountains or in earthquake zones or flood zones. We need to have health insurance do the same thing. Health insurance is the only part of the insurance industry that excludes people that they don’t want to insure. We need to tell insurance companies through regulations that if you are going to do business in California, you need to insure all the people living in California. That is the cost of doing business. Then you spread that rate among everyone else and you have special insurance plans for those with special needs that need to be covered.

We need to have interstate commerce where other people can purchase insurance inside California from any company that provides those services, [that] specializes in certain areas or certain types of medical conditions. With the free enterprise system, the companies are going to cater to a certain type of medical condition, but it’s the free enterprise system that has always been the solution in the past to provide us with the goods and services that we need, and the insurance industries should not be an exception to that rule.

The system that we have now needs to cover everybody, but there are so many exceptions that one group I’m really concerned about is full time employees. Employers are required to cover full-time employees, but are not required to cover anybody less than 30 hours a week. I can see employers now coming to the full-time employees, especially in the lower minimum wage-type industries saying, “I’m going to have to cut your hours from 40 hours to 29 just to eliminate health care.” The law, as I see it, doesn’t solve what it was intended to solve and has probably created more problems as a result of it. Bottom line is, we didn’t get real health insurance reform, but we still really need it.


Q. Another important part of your platform involves immigration. You have proposed a visa program where temporary residency can be obtained for a fine or community service. Tell us more about your ideas.

A. My church organist came over from Belgium, was a Fulbright scholar and went to USC to get his doctorate degree. When he completed his degree, he was required to leave the country to go back to Belgium for 2 years to pay back his scholarship. Belgium sent a letter saying he didn’t need to return, but immigration required it. He had to serve 2 full years in Belgium before he could come back here with permanent residency. Those were the rules and regulations that came up in his particular case.

If there is a person who’s lived here for 40 years, involved in business, there has to be some way to get them some sort of temporary residence card where they pay a fee to receive a temporary permit so they can apply for permanent residency. I know the big controversy in immigration is citizenship, but this isn’t amnesty for citizenship. This is just a way to help them get a driver’s license, a social security card and legally pay taxes. My insurance rates will go down if we have less uninsured drivers. It’s in my interest and that person’s interest financially to get them on the path to permanent residency. Then, should they desire to be a United States citizen, they fall in line with everybody else.

Once again, it’s listening to all sides, Republicans and Democrats working together to solve the illegal immigration problem that has been going on for probably 50, 60, 70 years, impacting everything we do here in southern California. It’s time we come up with a solution.

—Beth Hartnett



Next up in our candidates’ series: Donna Lowe, Republican candidate in the 41st Assembly district.


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