Bill Boyarsky
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Brad Sherman boasts of working with Paul Ryan

You’ve heard of the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket. But I bet the idea of a Ryan-Brad Sherman ticket never occurred to you. It didn’t occur to me until I covered the debate Wednesday night between Reps. Sherman and Howard Berman.

Amazingly—actually unbelievably—Sherman bragged about his cooperation with Rep. Paul Ryan, the designated Republican vice presidential nominee who wants to convert Medicare to a voucher system. He did this in a packed multi-purpose room at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School where a majority of the audience appeared to be Medicare eligible.

Sherman was talking about his ability to get things done behind the scenes, even though he has authored few successful bills. He boasted how he had worked with Ryan—and with Democrat Nancy Pelosi—on legislation that would have given President Barack Obama the right to veto individual items in the budget, the so-called line-item veto. Then, in response to Berman’s criticism of his bill-passing skill, Sherman noted that Ryan had been criticized as a “back bencher” because only two of his bills became law. The implication was that Ryan and Sherman shared the same work ethic that Sherman described as “I’m a work horse, not a show horse.”

Berman sarcastically remarked that perhaps Sherman, in comparing himself to Ryan, was hoping President Obama would name him vice presidential nominee to replace Joe Biden.

The audience applauded that remark and there were few cheers when Sherman boasted of his work with Ryan.

Mostly, however, fans of both men, battling for a San Fernando Valley congressional seat, cheered their favorites in a spirited debate that featured the usually reserved Berman in a new combative mode.

I was most interested in their differences over the Wall Street bailout. Sherman has been critical of it and boasted he forced major changes. Berman noted that the bailout prevented the recession from becoming a depression. “The financial situation was so unsettled that at the time we had to do something, “ replied Berman. He said “we had to move fast” and that bill “became the basis of the automobile bailout.”

It was a hot debate, almost as hot as the room, and the two congressmen were unrelenting in their assaults. Berman called Sherman’s record “meager and sparse.” Sherman said “if the San Fernando Valley elects me for 90 years I would not miss as many votes as Howard Berman has.” For people in my business, it was terrific battle.


More by Bill Boyarsky
Michael Berman: from the backroom to the spotlight
Brad Sherman boasts of working with Paul Ryan
Two levels of Berman-Sherman
Enough money for transit jobs?
Mayor celebrates big win

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