U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, supports the Occupy Wall Street protests and said she is "surprised people weren't out there sooner."
In a telephone town hall meeting with constituents in the Palo Alto-Los Altos area Wednesday night, Eshoo called on the Obama administration to refinance all mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"Unless housing makes a comeback, our national economy is not going to either," she said.
Eshoo also called on Obama to use executive powers to undercut the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in last year's Citizens United case, which held that the First Amendment protects corporate and union funding of political advertising in elections.
Eshoo fielded 11 questions on issues, including problems encountered by local biotech firms at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tax incentives for the repatriation of foreign profits of U.S.-based companies, and the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Questioners were pre-screened by staff members before going live on the call, which drew nearly 7,000 listeners for some amount of time, Eshoo's office said. Invitations were issued by robo-calls.
Eshoo defended Obama's $447 billion jobs bill, which Tuesday fell short in a procedural hurdle needed to advance in the Senate. She cited an array of macroeconomic advisers and Moody's Analytics who estimated the bill could boost economic growth by 1.25 to 2 percentage points, create 1.3 million to 1.9 million jobs and help rebuild roads, railways, airports and schools.
"If the Republicans don't agree with what the President has in his jobs bill they should put their ideas on the table," she said.
Eshoo said she's taken the recommendations of local venture capitalists and biotech executives "directly to the commissioner of the FDA" and "will not rest until we get whatever is not working inside the FDA back on track."
She said a federal law mandating disclosure of corporate sponsorship of political ads, which came up short in the Senate last year, could undercut the Supreme Court's Citizens' United decision. A similar disclosure law in California caused last year's Proposition 23 -- an initiative to suspend environmental protections -- to "go down in flames" when pro-23 advertisers had to disclose the ads were sponsored by oil companies, she said.
"The president could issue an executive order than anyone that does business with the federal government would simply have to disclose (sponsorship of a political ad)," she said, adding her efforts to require federal disclosure so far have been unsuccessful.
Eshoo repeatedly returned to unemployment and housing, saying "the American people are losing their confidence (that Washington will do something) and that should not be the case."
"The disparity between the higher income and the middle class is really quite stunning," she said in answer to a question about Occupy Wall Street.
"If the middle class is under the kind of stress and strain it is today, the country is not going to be strong.
"Most people know I represent Stanford and Silicon Valley and they think everything is just fine. But I deal with foreclosures, trying to remodify people's loans, people unemployed for long stretches of time," she said, adding that unless her office "calls and stays on it, you can't get to first base" with the banks.