By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Rep. Mac Thornberry spent Monday afternoon discussing topics of the present and future with an audience at Gainesville’s State Theater.
“Matinee With Mac” provided the representative with an audience of patrons who drew his opinions about a need “to get our fiscal house in order.”
Thornberry [R-Clarendon] admitted that the online generation has added great difficulty to any political arena.
“With the internet and e-mails, it’s getting harder and harder to figure out what the truth is,” he said. “But one place to start that’s true is facts and figures. Arithmetic can be manipulated, I understand. But generally, it’s pretty clear.”
Spending without earning
Thornberry discussed taxation and spending, providing charts dated to 1962 with figures that took population growth into account. Defense spending has hovered around $2,000 per person since that year, he said — give or take fairly minor spending climbs during wars — and has stayed there. But non-defense spending has risen to $10,000 per person.
“That’s where the changes happen,” he said. “If you look back over time, it’s gone up pretty steeply in recent years.”
Thornberry also criticized the alleged $5 trillion of new debt he said President Barack Obama has incurred through the past five years. Two-thirds of the federal budget, he said, are currently comprised of “entitlements,” or mandatory spending programs such as food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
And Thornberry added that even with all other federal spending instantly abolished, the United States would still face a deficit of several hundred billion dollars due to entitlement programs, which help account for a national debt now close to $16 trillion.
“The best way I’ve ever heard a trillion dollars explained is this,” he said. “If you started a business on the day Jesus was born and that business lost a million dollars per day, every day, from the day Jesus was born to now, you would not yet have lost a trillion dollars.”
The representative said Republicans are often criticized for using a platform that strongly emphasizes money — to the point that they “sound like just a bunch of accountants.”
Thornberry then admitted that such politicians should talk math less and talk more about the math’s human implications.
“Republican office holders need to do a better job of talking about why the dollars and cents matter to peoples’ lives,” he said, adding that historical studies show that all great empires and nations of the past have fallen primarily for financial reasons. “A lot of what it amounts to is spending. It’s not having control over the benefits, if you will, that have gone out to the public.”
Thornberry is currently vice-chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, where he leads the subcommittee on intelligence, potential threats and capabilities. He also currently serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“He’s very much involved with our armed services and the security of our country, which most of us would agree is the number-one job of our federal government,” Cooke County Republican Women official Pauline Lesch said Monday.
Prior to Monday’s main address, Thornberry said he agreed with Lesch, adding that a majority of his time and effort remains devoted to national security.
“And that makes me even more excited to represent Gainesville, because of what you all do with Medal of Honor winners,” he said. “It’s an incredible thing that, as you know, doesn’t happen anywhere else in the country.”
But later in the address, Thornberry said that for all of America’s strengths, the nation can ultimately become its own biggest foe.
“I do not believe any other nation on Earth can overcome us,” he said. “They can’t overcome us militarily, can’t overcome us economically and they can’t overcome us in any other way you want to measure. China, India, you name it; I don’t think they can overcome us. The only ones who can take us down are us. It’s what we do to ourselves that matters most.
“And I’m not saying the only thing we have to worry about is our budget or deficit,” he said. “But I am saying if we don’t worry about this and don’t get it under control, then we will have succeeded in taking ourselves down.”
More about Thornberry
Thornberry has served the state’s 13th congressional district since 1995. He previously represented only western portions of the county, but a redistricting process after the 2010 Census placed all of Cooke County in his district. Larger than 13 states and covering more than 40,000 square miles that include all or part of 44 counties, the 13th district encompasses the Texas Panhandle, goes south into the South Plains area north of Lubbock, and then runs east across the Red River Valley through Wichita Falls to Cooke County. — Some information courtesy of Cooke County Republican Women