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By Miriam Raftery April 3, 2009 (San Diego)—Democratic Congressman Bob Filner took some good-natured swings at fellow members of San Diego’s Congressional delegation at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon on March 27th. “First let me take some cheap political shots,” quipped Filner, sporting boxing gloves. He noted that the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests asked members of Congress to support the President’s stimulus package aimed at boosting the economy and creating jobs. “I supported it,” he said, noting that San Diego’s Republican Congressmen Duncan D. Hunter, Brian Bilbray and Darryl Issa (shown in photo) all voted against the measure. “And yet all those groups support these guys. I can never figure that out.”

Hunter defended his opposition, noting that the bill was rushed through Congress, and said he had no input on where the money would go within his district. Bilbray said he believes that “California is going to get short-changed,” while Issa contended that funds would not be spent in ways that would boost the economy. Filner noted that he would have liked to see more of the money targeted to job creation. The stimulus will pump close to a trillion dollars into the U.S. economy, including substantial infusions for schools, infrastructure and jobs. “The purpose of this package is to get jobs immediately and to set the base for a new economy,” Filner said. The members offered diverse views on earmarks, the process in which members of Congress target budget funds for specific projects. Filner said the process is often misunderstood and does not actually add to total expenditures, but instead targets needs within legislators’ districts. Hunter has sought to earmark funds for new military projects including two Predator drone aircraft, as well as for a bridge over Shoal Creek Road to allow children to walk to school safely. Issa has sworn off requesting future earmarks. “We all know what happened with the abuses in the past,” said Bilbray, who occupies the seat formerly held by Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the Rancho Santa Fe Congressman now serving time in prison after being convicted of conspiracy and tax evasion in 2006 after confessing to taking $2.4 million in bribes. Representatives also voiced support for stronger border security and pledged to work together where possible to benefit the San Diego region on issues ranging from transportation to veterans’ needs.

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