L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, about to assume the presidency of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, took a victory lap on national television Sunday as a guest panelist on NBC's "Meet The Press.''
The mayor used the platform to criticize Congress -- and primarily Republicans -- for political shrillness, and his fellow Democrats for not sufficiently talking about the paycheck issues that affect American cities, and the people who live in them.
"People are tired of the gridlock, the partisanship, the polarization, the shrill debate,'' Villaraigosa said. "We're excited that the President and the Speaker (of the House) are on some sort of golf tournament day, the fact of the matter is they should be talking on a regular basis, and not all this screaming at one another.''
The two-term L.A. mayor travelled from Baltimore, where the Conference of Mayors is meeting, to Washington for the TV show taping. On Monday, he will be installed as the group's leader, a post he won on a campaign of boosting federal spending for subways, rail and other major civic investments.
On the broadcast, Villaraigosa gently criticized the national news media for a feeding frenzy on the misdeeds of Rep. Anthony Weiner, while not focusing on unsexy topics like infrastructure investments that feed job growth.
"For most of us, watching that circus and the amount of time and air that it consumed, again it feels like you are on another planet. People are losing their homes due to foreclosure, people are out of their jobs in record numbers,'' he complained.
Villaraigosa targeted Congressional Republicans for their threats to block increasing the federal debt ceiling, causing the U.S. Treasury to teeter near defaulting on bond payments. "With Republicans primarily threatening to default,'' the mayor said, there needs to be talk about "what that would mean to the economy, and the increase in unemployment.''
The L.A. mayor chided both parties for neglecting education and infrastructure investment as budget cuts are discussed. "You have Democrats who don't want to address entitlements and Social Security, and Republicans who say national defense is off the table, and what's left? Infrastructure.''
Villaraigosa acknowledged he was concentrating his criticism on Republicans, but said the economy was ruined by deficit spending amassed during the George W. Bush presidency. "You gotta call it like you see it,'' Villaraigosa proclaimed.
"But you can't keep blaming Bush,'' host David Gregory interjected.
Gregory started the Meet The Press segment by noting Los Angeles is his hometown, and apologized for mispronouncing Villaraigosa's name, "which was embarrassing.''