In an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the immigration debate amongst GOP presidential hopefuls "seems to be from another planet" because the real conversation is all about jobs.
With just 26 of the country's 363 metropolitan areas recovering their jobs by the end of 2011, Villaraigosa thinks the conversation people really care about is "how we can partner together to put people back to work."
Villairgosa told Schieffer in the latest episode of "Face to Face" that Congress could create "millions of jobs" by passing the payroll tax cut at least through the year, and by passing the surface transportation bill.
Just before Christmas, Congress passed a two-month payroll tax extension. So by the end of February, Congress will have to address the issue again. The big question is how long the extension will be - through the end of 2012 or longer, or something more like the two-month extension passed at the end of last year.
A surface transportation extension was signed into law last September that extended the bill through March 31, 2012. Surface transportation bills are essentially federal highway bills which dictate the amount of tax Congress can collect on gasoline sales and how that tax is distributed within the Highway Trust Fund. The September extension followed a similar extension that was signed into law in March of 2011.
Knowing that Congress probably won't agree to spending more money in a climate of fiscal lockdown, Villaraigosa suggested the U.S. could cut back on war spending. He said the U.S. should accelerate withdrawal not just from Iraq but also from Afghanistan because "we can't build hospitals in Kandahar and not Kansas City."
Instead of spending money on wars, Villaraigosa said the U.S. needs to invest in infrastructure ranging from ports, airports and high speed rail to universities and public schools.