By Matthew Kredell
Congressman Adam Schiff spoke about the need for clear leadership in the era of the global pandemic May 27 in a Zoom event hosted by the USC Price School of Public Policy and its Executive Master of Leadership (EML) program.
USC Price Prof. Carol Geffner, director of the EML program, led the discussion with Schiff, a Democrat who is in his 10th term representing the 28th Congressional District, which includes West Hollywood, Burbank, and parts of Pasadena, Glendale, Hollywood, Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz.
USC Price Dean Jack H. Knott, in introducing the event, noted that the School looks forward to hosting a Republican Congressman for a similar talk in the future.
“At the Price School, we are interested in working across the aisle to make local, state and national government work in service of our citizens,” Knott said. “It is my hope that today’s forum will be a rich, nonpartisan dialogue about leadership and intergovernmental policy in the pandemic in a time when leadership, open conversation and integrity at all levels are of the upmost importance.”
Schiff expressed profound concern at both the lives lost during the pandemic and the devastation of the American economy that has not been witnessed since the Great Depression.
“Some, I think, take the view that the health of our economy can somehow be segregated from the health of our people,” Schiff said. “I don’t think that’s true. I think the two are quite intertwined and entangled.”
Geffner asked Schiff about important qualities for leaders in these difficult times. He explained that leaders need to be empathetic and willing to be upfront about these challenges. He added that public officials need to do more than just consider the health and economic needs of their constituents. They also need to inspire people about their ability to get through this.
“Leadership in a time of crisis needs to be crystal clear. You can’t be sending mixed messages and confusing messages and expect people are going to follow you,” Schiff said. “We need to be thinking also about how to build the country back better on the other side of this pandemic.”
In Congress, Schiff said that representatives continue to pass bills providing more funding for testing and tracing. They also have imposed a requirement to develop a national testing and tracing strategy.
“At the federal level, one of the most important things we can do right now is help to fund what the states and local communities are doing,” Schiff said. “An emergency like a pandemic really calls for both strong national leadership because the virus isn’t going to stop at a state border, nonpartisan leadership because the virus doesn’t discriminate between Democrats and Republicans.”
Schiff is very concerned with preexisting disparities around access to healthcare, issues of bias at hospitals and disproportionate economic impacts for people of color. Through the small business loan program, he said Congress set aside billions in funding for community- and minority-based lending institutions so that preexisting inequities in access to capital aren’t made worse by the pandemic.
“In each and every way, we need to make sure that this pandemic doesn’t make these divisions worse and, as we emerge from it, we need to build back a society more just, more equitable and more fair,” Schiff said.
The full discussion with Congressman Adam Schiff can be viewed on YouTube.