By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer
Advocating a strong defense in a dangerous world, United States House Representative Mac Thornberry [R-Clarendon] spoke at the May 1 Rotary Club meeting. Accompanied by his wife Sally, Thornberry met with Rotary members regarding proposed budget cuts, the sequestration and a credible revamping of the tax laws looming on the congressional agenda when he returns to Washington D.C.
In addition to serving as the Vice-Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Thornberry was chosen in 2011 to spearhead a Cybersecurity Task Force to propose legislative action deemed necessary regarding growing national security and economic threats to America. Part of the task force function is to examine existing law procedures, to determine how to better protect critical infrastructure and to decide how to monitor information transmitted via cyberspace.
“The world is not getting easier or less dangerous and terror has not gone away,” Thornberry said. “Recent events in Boston and around the world are proof of this.”
“A recent slow down of the internet banking of New York banks was traced back to Iran,” he continued. “As we depend more on the internet, those who wish to harm us may seek out potential areas of vulnerability in our defenses through spyware or malware.”
Thornberry also said he’s against defense cuts.
“The last place we should cut our spending is in Defense,” Thornberry said. “I will cut anything in order to take care of our soldiers as they strive to protect all of us. It is our people that keep us strong and we must support them.”
Thornberry said that the military budget has dropped from $551 billion last year to $501 billion planned for this next year.
“We will soon be out of Afghanistan but the world is still complex and we need to make sure that we are prepared to cover all costs,” he said.
Thornberry charted average spending costs per American from 1962 to 2013 with regard to defense spending, non-defense spending, entitlement spending and national debt interest.
He said that in 1962, the United States spent an average of $2,000 per person on defense and $2,000 per person on non-defense items.
“In 2012, we are still only spending $2,000 on defense per person but we are averaging $10,000 per person on non-defense items mostly due to entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”
Thornberry also said that flexibility may be required as volunteers look to the armed forces as a career. Potential enlistees may not want to serve 20 years before they can reap any retirement or make career changes. He also stated that money won’t buy patriotism or loyalty and that the U.S. may need to change with the times to maintain morale and interest for those who choose to serve in the military.
Thornberry answered several questions from Rotary members following his opening remarks.
Addressing a question regarding the need for lobbyists, Thornberry said that although lobbyists do have a right to petition on behalf of their causes each Congress member must use his or her own set of values, morals and character to properly represent constituents.
Regarding accomplishments of this Congress, Thornberry said that revamping of the tax laws may happen as early as next year.
“We see congressional momentum growing and the goal is to set two tax rates, the highest being 25 percent. By passing these reforms, it would make Congress happy, tax payers happy and lobbyists potentially unhappy.”
Addressing the issue of term limits, Thornberry said he had voted for term limits three times in the past.
He also stated that the Congress does not have a separate insurance or retirement plan and warned residents not to believe everything on the internet.