Schiff

Congressman Adam Schiff speaks to the La Canada Kiwanis at Descanso Gardens. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer / August 22, 2012)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) came to La Cañada Flintridge on Wednesday to decry the partisan division in Congress and warn that it could lead to economic devastation.

“This is a terrible way to run a government. It is a byproduct, I think, of an extraordinarily hyper-partisan environment, where compromise is a bad word,” Schiff said at a luncheon meeting of Kiwanis Club La Cañada. “We know what needs to be done. There's a limited range of options, none of them all that palatable, but they have to be done.”

Schiff laid out the pressing financial issues facing Congress: the need to raise the debt ceiling once again, to extend or otherwise mitigate the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and to avoid spending cuts — or sequestration — triggered if Congress doesn't put a debt-reduction plan in place.

“To go into a situation at the end of the year, where we have the massive cuts required by sequestration as well as significant tax increases, would be basically a double-barreled blast to the economy,” he said. “Some economists predict it might be enough to push us back into another recession.”

Schiff does not currently represent La Cañada. But because of legislative redistricting, if he defeats Republican opponent Phil Jennerjahn in November, he will gain La Cañada and cities as far away as West Hollywood while losing most of Pasadena. The congressman who now represents La Cañada, David Dreier (R-San Dimas), has announced his retirement.

With Jet Propulsion Laboratory's triumphant landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars this month, Schiff denounced President Obama's decision to cut funds for planetary exploration from $587 million to $360 million in the federal fiscal plan for 2013. He said other NASA projects should be trimmed instead.

“At a time when our manned spaceflight program has really suffered and we are relying on the Russians for a ride to the [International] Space Station, to diminish the one unparalleled area of American leadership in interplanetary science makes no sense whatsoever,” he said.

The House has moved to restore $88 million of the administration's proposed cuts, and the Senate has moved to restore $100 million. Schiff has said in the past that the final budget may not pass until after the election.

Schiff emphasized the importance of the work being done by scientists at JPL.

“This is the most unique talent pool on Earth,” he said. “If we let that talent pool dissipate … it will take us decades to rebuild.”