Sacramento, CA – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy joined the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) for a wide-ranging discussion on top issues facing California and the nation including: federal and state taxes, water, immigration, trade, the opioid crisis, high-speed rail and the censorship of conservatives.

Excerpts are below, or watch online here.

On the positive economic impact of tax reform:

“If you look at the economy today with 4.1% GDP growth––people thought that was impossible to achieve. In the last 49 years, unemployment has only been below 4.0% for eight months. Three of those eight months were this year. Unemployment claims are at historic lows and we really have a unique opportunity to decide where this country goes.”

On why California’s gas tax needs to be repealed:

“The challenge is that we live in California, so gas prices are higher. What’d the state government do? Raise the gas tax. Making affordability more challenging. Think of the backwards thinking in California. If you’re affluent, you can afford stuff like that. You go out to buy a car and maybe you want to buy an electric car. California will subsidize you and then you’ll drive on the roads and you’re not going to pay into the roads. But those who are really fighting financially—like in my district where it’s hard to afford a house—they pay more for gas and have to drive farther for their jobs. They’re getting punished. It’s backwards thinking.

“Compare what California is doing and what Republicans in Washington are doing. Washington lets you keep more of your own money, and lets you decide where to invest.”

On Congress taking action to combat human trafficking and the opioid crisis:

“Let’s touch on maybe two topics that people aren’t talking about. Human trafficking, modern-day slavery. It happens in every city across this country. A hundred thousand Americans a year are trafficked. Unbelievable that this happens in today’s age. 70 percent of this happens because of the web, places like Backpage.com and others. We just signed a bill that shut down Backpage, they’re now being prosecuted. A DA told one of my members that 82 percent of trafficking websites are now gone.

“Let’s talk about opioids. There’s probably not one person in this room who is untouched by addiction. 112 people will die today from the opioid epidemic. This congress put more money than any congress into this issue…. We passed more than 52 bills just dealing with this. So we’re tackling issues even beyond the economy.”

On why California should scrap its high-speed rail project:

“I know Governor Brown has fought hard for the tunnels and the train. This is my prediction if you want me to make news: Whoever wins the governorship in November will cancel the train. I just don’t see that going anywhere.

“If you look at every report, one, in order to finish it off you have to increase the gasoline tax. A state senator just lost his position over the gasoline tax. It’s overwhelmingly popular to repeal the gasoline tax because it’s such a punishment on the middle class. I think that’s going to be a defining issue in these elections.

“Another point, it’s not high speed. Why would California want to build something they’re not going to be proud of? And you’re going to have to subsidize it. You’ll have to increase taxes more, take more from the schools. I don’t see how that plays.

“The tunnels, if they could be built, if they could guarantee more water coming down, I would be supportive of that. But I don’t see it coming to fruition. I’ll withhold judgment.”

On conservatives being censored online:

“There’s so many things I’m fearful about before the election, such as what’s happening with social media. Things that are keeping our voices from going forward. I was just on the phone with Jack Dorsey about shadow-banning, where a user can put something out but others aren’t able to see it. And right before the California primaries, you know what it said our ideology was? It wasn’t the Party of Lincoln or the Party of Reagan. It was Nazism….. Social media is providing so much of our information, and algorithms are determining what you are allowed to say and what you are allowed to see. I want to take steps going forward to make sure that these networks are transparent.”