Weeks into a letter writing and phone campaign by members by Occupy Redlands, Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) has declined a request to meet with the group to answer questions.
“Congress is scheduled to be in session at least until Dec. 16, and there are already rumors that the House will remain in session through the following weekend and possibly into the following week,” wrote Jim Specht, Lewis’ deputy chief of staff in an email.
As a result, the congressman won’t be able to hold meetings until the actual congressional work schedule is clearer, Specht said.
Members of the local Occupy were trying to track down the congressman in the hopes of asking him questions. They also wanted to invite Lewis to meet with them Dec. 17 making calls and encouraging followers of their Facebook page to do the same.
They hadn’t gotten many answers before Wednesday said Keith Jackson, Occupy Redlands committee member. “We have quite a few questions,” he said.
On Tuesday, after Loma Linda Patch contacted him, Specht answered a few of the group's questions.
“We appreciate the response by Jim Specht from Rep. Lewis's office to
our questions,” the Occupy group wrote in an email. “Occupy Redlands will study the answers and plans to have a response and additional questions for Rep. Lewis shortly.”
The following are the questions asked and the answers from the congressman’s office.
What is the congressman doing to create jobs in the Inland Empire?
The congressman has been working with House leadership to pass a series of bills that would ease federal burdens on small businesses and allow them to spend more of their money on creating jobs. So far this year, the House has passed 25 of these bills, and the Senate has passed just four and sent them on to the President. Those that were finally signed into law create new free trade agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia, they reduce paperwork and tax burdens on small business, and help veterans to find work more quickly. Congressman Lewis has urged the Senate to pass these bills and provide important help to the real generators of jobs in our nation, small business owners.
What are you doing to prevent home foreclosures in the IE, where home values have plummeted and foreclosures are still at historically high numbers?
Congressman Lewis has supported legislation that helped bring mortgage rates down and dropped fees for refinancing. The legislation – which was signed by the President – also set new rules that encouraged lenders to work with homeowners to avoid foreclosure. The congressman’s staff has worked directly with hundreds of homeowners in the district to help them navigate potential foreclosure proceedings and to restructure their loans. The congressman is concerned with one of the major proposals of the protest groups, which calls on the government to require banks to rewrite loans to those mortgage holders who are “under water.” Any blanket change like this could destabilize banks of all sizes and cause more to fail or be taken over – like the Arrowhead Federal Credit Union and Centennial Bank in the Inland Empire. Beyond this problem, most mortgages are actually not held by the banks, but by investors and pension funds, who would lose the value of their investment in any kind of writedown.
Has there been any discussion about a moratorium on foreclosures through the holiday season?
A number of major banks have already declared a moratorium on foreclosures during the holidays. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced moratoriums for the past two years, and have indicated they will do so again this year. Congressman Lewis applauds these efforts, but does not support a government sanction to force lenders to suspend their business for a particular time.
Do you support the OCCUPIED Amendment introduced by Representative Deutch on 11/18? (Aka. Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy (OCCUPIED) Constitutional Amendment.)
Congressman Lewis is opposed to placing restrictions on campaign finance in the Constitution, or making any changes in the legal status of corporations without extensive hearings on the potential side effects of such a move.