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The View of the 'Fiscal Cliff' From Pelosi Country

Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012 | 1:27 PM ET

San Francisco is a long way from Washington, D.C. Some people would joke that it's on another planet.

Justin Solomon for CNBC

This is a city where there are laws against tying your dog's leash to a tree, washing your car with used underwear, or appearing nude in public. Sales taxes are 8.5 percent, and the median home price is $416,000, up nearly 19 percent in a year. (Read More: California Finds Economic Gloom Starting to Lift.)

Highly taxed, highly regulated with a high cost of living and an overwhelmingly liberal electorate, the City by the Bay has still managed to do better than the rest of California. The preliminary October unemployment rate for the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont region was 7.7 percent, compared to 9.8 percent for California and 7.9 percent for the entire country.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has represented this area for a quarter century. What do her constituents think about the "fiscal cliff?" (Read More: What Is the 'Fiscal Cliff'? )

"I feel like my government's broken because they forgot how to work together," said Larry Collins, president of the San Francisco Crab Boaters Association.

What Are Business Leaders Saying About Rep. Pelosi?
CNBC's Jane Wells speaks to constituents in the 8th district of California to find out what business leaders are saying about the Minority Leader's handling of the "fiscal cliff."

Crab season is in full swing, and Collins is pleased with the prices fishermen are getting this year. "It's food of the gods." Yet this is dangerous work. Mistakes can be fatal, and while Collins called Pelosi "a friend of the commercial fishing industry," he thinks she and other political leaders could learn from his experience.

"I'm a commercial fisherman, and when I go fishing and something's broken, I fix it, right now. I don't talk about how to fix it, I fix it," Collins said. "There's an awful lot of talk (in Washington) about what they ought to do, but nobody's fixing it. Stop talkin', and start fixin'." (Read More: Obama: Let's Get 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal Before Christmas.)

Across town, Kurt Abney is both chef and owner at Dottie's True Blue Cafe. "If I ran my business the way the government is run, I wouldn't be in business," he said.

Abney has run Dottie's for nearly 20 years and recently relocated to a bigger facility in one of the city's roughest neighborhoods in exchange for tax breaks. Even here, his restaurant has a line out the door and around the block as people wait to get in for breakfast.

"Business for me is fantastic," he said. He, too, is a Pelosi supporter, but is he concerned about the fiscal cliff? "No. I think there are a lot of scare tactics." (Read More: Sen. Reid Reports Little Progress in 'Cliff' Talks.)

Even so, there is a fog of concern among many small business owners in San Francisco. A report by Bank of America on small business optimism here found that only 43 percent of owners believe the local economy will improve over the next year, and only about one in three thinks the national economy will get better.

What would Abney and Collins like Rep. Pelosi to push through in a grand bargain to avoid the cliff?

"What concerns me is spending," Abney said. "There's a lot of wasted money."

Still, he thinks the Bush tax cuts should expire. He said he managed to get by back when rates were higher. "A higher tax rate for those who can afford a higher tax rate, pay it."

Larry Collins agrees.

"If the wealthy were paying their fair share, I think everybody else would feel better about paying a little more," he said, standing among the crab boats along Fisherman's Wharf. "Let's not give away the store to the people that already own it."

Mostly, though, Collins would like the deadlock to end. "I've never had a paid day off in my life, and I'd like to see those guys put their noses to the grindstone and get the work done that needs to get done."

—By CNBC's Jane Wells
@janewells

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