At 32, U.S. Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell is currently the youngest Congressman representing California, having defeated longtime incumbent Pete Stark last year. Congressman Swalwell represents the 15th district, which includes Hayward, Union City, and Livermore. He joins us in-studio to take your questions.

Interview Highlights

Eric Swalwell, U.S. congressman representing the 15th District of California, including parts of the East Bay

  • erictremont

    Does Rep. Swalwell support or oppose the proposed high speed rail system in California? In my humble opinion, it is a totally impractical project but I’d like to hear his views.

  • Chemist150

    I would like to know how he feels about only democrats being on the ballot for his office with no write in vote option.

    I feel it undermines the democratic process where we can vote for someone different. With the party lines as strong as they are, it appears to be only to exclude and silence voters so the party can be as left as they want.

    • ItsChippp

      In districts that are somewhat balanced, you’ll still see both parties in the final election. In a district like the 15th, no Republican had a chance against either Swalwell or Stark. The “top 2” primary is precisely the mechanism that gave Swalwell a chance to run against Stark and gave voters in the 15th a chance to replace Stark. “Top 2” will work the same way in strongly GOP districts, giving voters a chance to choose someone other than the candidate that appeals most to the party base.

      • Chemist150

        It’s silencing votes.

        • ItsChippp

          I understand – I’d hate to go vote in November and have to choose between two people of the same party if I don’t support that party. However, sticking with the 15th District as the example, if a Republican can’t place in the top two slots in the primary season, what are the odds of winning the general election? At least in districts that lean heavily to one party, those of the minority party now have a chance to vote for the more moderate candidate. In a way, their vote might count more now. Would you throw your vote to a known losing effort, or have a chance of influencing the outcome? It’s early on in this new system – I think Swalwell’s success is a win for the system, and I’d like to see it in action for a few more elections. It may not be perfect, but it deserves more time to see the long term effects.

          • Chemist150

            Defend marginalization all you want. It’s wrong.

    • Steve

      It does not make the party “as left as they want”. In fact, the effect is the opposite – it allows a chance for a more centrist candidate to get through the primary to the general election.

      Another way to think about it is – the primary has become a “first round” general election, and the general election is now a runoff election.

      • Chemist150

        It also allows a monopoly. It’s crooked.

      • Chemist150

        Libertarians, Republicans, and Independents are not voting in Democrat primaries. There is low turn out in primaries and it’s a corrupt way to ensure a monopoly.

      • Chemist150

        And if you dare suggest that other parties vote in the democrat primaries, please stop to think how that sounds.

        That would create a one party system.

        Rank voting is the way to go here with multiple candidates from multiple parties. If people cannot vote their conscience first, it will never work with a one or two party system.

        One party allows you to stand two candidates together with the same platform where one is ugly and the other in good looking and one will get more votes than the other.

        This is no more than a monopoly move to gain influence for the Democrats.

        Who wrote and sponsored this proposition?

  • Anonymous

    I work in the immigration field and I along with most if not all of my colleagues find the 65K H-1B cap to be ridiculous. The US is training a bunch of these immigrants here in the US when they come on a F-1 student visa. And because the cap is met each year, their status transfer from Student Visa to Work Visa is denied. Instead, after years of education in the US, they are forced to bring the knowledge and talent acquired in the US back to China and India. This is extremely detrimental to the US in terms of global competition. If my barber and my doctor understands this point, why doesn’t Congress?

    • Bob Fry

      Can you understand that importing labor of any skill is just a gimmick to lower and cheapen labor costs for businesses here, to the detriment of American workers?

      • Anonymous

        To the detriment of American workers, I don’t know. It certainly doesn’t seem that way in the Silicon Valley with regards to high-tech jobs. Foreign nationals are being paid well above the market value prevailing wage. I’m not sure how the businesses are cheapening labor cost if they are paying the same amount to foreign nationals as US citizens. In fact, the immigration process is extremely expensive for businesses. Perhaps there’s just a shortage of skilled high tech workers here in the valley.

      • aa aa

        True. But it is a far bigger problem to continue to import millions of low-skilled workers (by not enforcing E-verify, exit visas, etc) than thousands more H1B’s. Are engineers really paid too little in Silicon Valley? Not as far I can tell, once you factor in their salary increases over time (Know a green card started out at $30,000 in the late 80s, but now earns over $100,000), but I’m open to seeing more than anecdotal evidence on this if you know of any.
        However, there’s no question that wages have been stagnating, even declining, for most of those in the bottom third or so for the last thirty years. And the sort of jobs they do tend not to increase in pay much over time. That’s why legalization for 11 million plus largely low-skill workers (more than half of Mexican & C. American immigrants have less than HS education and that includes legals who are more educated than the “undocumented”), and the new W-visa, bringing in even more low-skill workers is a far, far bigger problem. Workers in the bottom third (whether American or immigrants) are already paid so poorly most depend on some sort of income supports;. It’s insanity to for the Democratic elites like Swallwell, to keep increasing this lower-skill labor pool and then say they’re against stagnant and declining wages and inequality. And for the Republican elites to keep increasing this labor pool and then complain about food stamps and EIC costs.

  • Ryan

    How does he reconcile prosecuting someone that has leaked national security information because the individual broke the law but granting amnesty to those that arrived in this country illegally and by definition also broke the law. This seems to be inconsistent?

    • aa aa

      Indeed. Notice he never answered your question, because he has no good answer.Typical slippery politician.

      And then he gives the lame argument that legalizing undocumented will lead to higher wages because they will be “counted” (presumably he means they be able to get better-paid jobs). Earth to Swallwell: that will only work if you strictly enforce any further illegal immigration after that. If you don’t, you just get millions more illegals, who will be underpaid, and the cycle just repeats. What we learned in 1986, and what we can see from the current bill Swallwell and his ilk are promoting: the elites are taking no real steps to prevent on future mass illegal immigration. (No border security already in place, no mandatory E verify, no biometric exit visas (too expensive!)

      And his argument about taxes is absurd. Undocumented pay sales taxes therefore they aren’t a drain! Tourists pay sales taxes too, no one thinks you can support a large welfare state on what tourists pay in sales taxes. It’s true undocumented have been paying more into Social Security than they take out, but they cost more at the state and local level than they put in. On net, looking at both federal and local levels, largely because of their low-earnings, they cost more than they contribute.This has been well-studied and was acknowledged even by the Clintons in the 90s, when they suggested that because illegal immigration costs are greater at local than federal levels that feds could reimburse localities for them. But now Democratic elites have become so insanely one-sided on illegal immigration that they won’t even admit that there are any significant costs to it.

  • David

    One topic I haven’t heard addressed yet is education. It’s mainly something carried out at the state and local level but there are some federal roles. I hope Rep. Swalwell will support better teaching by supporting a logical definition of “highly qualified teachers” (i.e., five weeks of training in TFA does not make one highly qualified), and I hope the replacement of No Child Left Behind will not include the same failed approaches, using standardized test scores to shame or punish our way to better results. NCLB utterly failed in that regard.

  • Steve

    From article in SF Chron by Carolyn Lochhead on June 3, 2013:

    “Lobbying by Facebook, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants yielded a bonanza for Silicon Valley. The bill could more than triple – to a record 230,000 annually – the number of temporary H-1B visas for skilled workers, most of whom come from India and work in entry-level tech jobs.

    The bill also grants permanent residency to any foreign student who earns a master’s degree in science, technology, engineering or math from a U.S. college or university. Touted as “stapling a green card” to U.S. diplomas earned by foreigners, the policy would allow such green cards to be issued with no limit on their number. Several leading immigration and labor scholars said the bill could turn U.S. universities into “green card mills” that sell U.S. residency instead of education, and could dim the prospects of U.S. students and professionals seeking tech careers.”

    • Bob Fry

      UC Davis and I’m sure others are already holding places not for the best qualified students but for out-of-state (read: foreign) students who simply can pay the money for the tuition. Now tie that to your green card guarantee and you indeed have public universities simply acting as conduits for foreign immigration, with only the rich American students able to go to school.

  • lemotjuste

    I found the congressman impressive, especially in his ability to engage the less than friendly questioners at the point of their concerns. Gives me hope that more new congressmen will be able to bring bipartisan approaches to problems.

  • Michael Stoutmire

    A very good interview.

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