A "coffee" hosted by Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) at the New World Open Academy in Koreatown drew more than 100 constituents on Tuesday evening, many of whom had questions about the role he would play on a 12-member deficit reduction committee.
Becerra, whose congressional district includes Mount Washington, Highland Park, Echo Park, Eagle Rock and parts of Hollywood, is charged with helping to devise a plan to reduce the nation's deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
Many constituents asked Becerra to affirm his support of programs like Medicare and Social Security, while others asked that he not support any plan that would raise taxes.
However, Fred Coronel, an activist from Glendale, used the town hall session as an outlet to express his rage over the mere existence of the super congress.
Coronel shouted across the auditorium that Becerra was "playing games" with the public by participating in the so called "Super Congress." Coronel also adamantly declared that the "Super Congress" was "unconstitutional."
He was dragged out of the auditorium by several LAPD officers, after refusing Becerra's request that he not interrupt the town hall's question and answer session.
After the meeting, Coronel stood in front of the New Open World Academy and distributed campaign literature for the LaRouche Political Action Committee, a group formed by perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche.
Locals Attend Coffee to Learn, Have Say
Ramon Muniz of Cypress Park was one of the many constituents who traveled to the New Open World Center for Becerra's coffee session.
"I'm here to catch up and get some detailed information on the committee of 12," Muniz said.
Muniz listed his primary concerns as immigration reform and job creation.
Stephen Smith, of Eagle Rock, was one of the constituents to attend the coffee who did not describe himself as a Becerra supporter. In fact, Smith launched a failed bid to unseat the congressman in 2010.
He said he came to the town hall to urge Becerra to compromise with his Republican counterparts as member of the super congress.
"I think he has a great chance to have his Nixon in China moment," Smith said. "He needs to put aside blame and focus on finding common ground."
Smith, who had a chance to address Becerra at the podium during the coffee, said America would not be able to solve its current debt problem by taxing the rich.
For his part, Becerra said he would hold true to his convictions by attempting to protect what he considered invaluable social programs. However, he said in order for compromise to be made, he had to put everything on the table.
"I need to be able to say to [Republicans] that [Social Security] is there on the table. But, before we leave it on the table to find savings, they're going to need to prove to me why it deserves to be cut," Becerra said. "I believe I can win that argument."
Victor Lorenzo, of Koreatown, said Tuesday's was the first town hall session he had ever attended.
"I'm just here to explore and see what this stuff is all about," Lorenzo said. "It's my first time."