Republican Congressman Tom McClintock spoke last week in Coarsegold and Oakhurst, telling residents that "America will have a "fleeting opportunity to set things right and make some dramatic changes to the economy" come election time this November.
"The American spirit is coming alive," McClintock said. "This is not going to be a close election. I have a pretty high degree of confidence that we'll have a new president."
McClintock has served 22 years in the California State Legislature and was elected in 2008 to represent the 4th Congressional District in the United States Congress. His seat is being challenged this November by Democrat Jack Uppal of Lincoln.
In August, 2011, the District 4 boundary lines changed, making seven of ten counties new to his campaign, including Madera County.
McClintock described the two political parties as "Freedom vs. Socialism," with one following the "laws of nature and God" and the other believing that "the purpose of government is not to protect fundamental rights but to organize and structure" government.
On Sept. 6, McClintock addressed and took questions from about 30 people at Erna's Elderberry House in Oakhurst and later close to 100 people at the Coarsegold Community Center.
"Federal entitlement spending is more than revenue spending," he said. "The Social Security system permanently is paying out more than it's taking in and will continue to do so until it totally collapses. If you live beyond your means today, you'll have to live below your means later. This is the first generation where we may actually leave a worse future for our children."
McClintock said his issue with President Obama is that he hasn't done enough to change President Bush's policies.
"Bush put us $8 trillion in debt in five years -- Obama put us $5.5 trillion in debt in four years," McClintock said, adding that creating a viable budget is "not a matter of parties, it's a matter of policies."
McClintock applauded Democratic President Clinton for economic policies that created an era of "remarkable economic expansion" for America.
"When we reduce tax and regulatory burdens on the economy then the economy thrives," he said. "And I think we are going to see these changes in January."
McClintock said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are "sort-of wars" and should have been backed "with the full might and glory of it."
"And if there is such a thing as a sort-of war, we suck at it," he said.
McClintock recalled a young veteran from Afghanistan and Iraq lament the "rules of engagement," including that they could not follow insurgents into a mosque. McClintock said a WWII veteran beside the young veteran was asked if he would have followed enemy Germans into a church during WWII:
"Good heavens no," the veteran said. "We would have blown up the church" -- an answer met by a roar of laughter from the crowd.
"You can not win wars by dropping bombs," McClintock said. "You win wars by hurting people and breaking things, like the Marines say."
Using your voice
"I do receive reports of calls and emails to my office (from the public) every week," he said. "I know it feels like you are beating your head against a brick wall but keep doing it."
McClintock encouraged people to help others get involved by sharing news stories and taking part in the political debate.And when people "start calling you names, you know you've won," he added.
Energy & Environment
When asked about a bus line from Fresno to Yosemite, spearheaded by Fresno Council of Governments, McClintock launched an attack on the National Park Service and environmentalists -- calling the "liberal left" "lunatic" four times in questions that followed about the environment and energy.
"I'm on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and what has become very clear to me is under this administration, is that there is a bizarre notion of forcing the public off public land because mother earth is suffering from terrible infestation ... It's a religion to these people," McClintock said. "We are dealing with the lunatic fringe of our public policy."
He later added "their vision (the National Park Service) is no one drives into Yosemite anymore, you get bused in ... I am convinced their goal is to get rid of the people from the parks, not just the cars."
McClintock -- whose district extended from South Lake Tahoe to California's northern border until last fall -- now includes Yosemite National Park, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Devil's Postpile National Monument and many other wilderness areas.
Regarding energy, McClintock said America has three times the known petroleum supply of Saudi Arabia and enough known coal to last 200 years.
"Go to North Dakota (where there's been a recent oil boom) and you'll see what an energy independent America looks like ... and that's what this administration has been blocking," he said.
McClintock said the cheapest and most abundant sources of energy are: hydraulic, coal, nuclear and petroleum, and that the administration has been opposing them in that order.
McClintock said the courts verdict to uphold "Obamacare" makes a tax and a penalty interchangeable for the first time.
"The courts said Obamacare is fine as long as it's a tax instead of a fine, but the effect is the same," he said. "If it's a tax, the burden is on you to show that you didn't run the red light. If it's a fine, you are innocent until proven guilty.
In response to a question about charter schools, McClintock talked about the past and what has changed in education over the past 50 years.
"In the 1960s, we were paying a third of what we pay today and we received far better services," he said. "The teacher was in charge of the classroom and could tailor it and make it unique. The principal was in charge of the teachers, and had the authority to hire and fire and the principal had the local school board (to help with decisions) and that's where it ended.
"In those days we had one volume of state education, now we have at least 12 volumes -- that's what changed for the worst. Charter schools are going back to the 'old and tried and true' organization. Why don't we run the entire public school system that way?"
American Indian policy
Morris Reid, a former tribal council member at the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians who opposes recent tribal disenrollments and was elected as chairman but not seated, addressed McClintock.
"What happens because of gaming, is a small group comes to power and uses disenrollment to get rid of its members ... and (because of disenrollments) many are back on welfare because the few want it all," Reid said. "Bureau of Indian Affairs can't just not do anything. This gaming money was supposed to enbetter their lives, and the government and legislation has to do something to look into this."
"I used to take the position that tribes are sovereign and it's up to them," said McClintock, who also sits on the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaskan Native Affairs. He said he is aware of disenrollments at several gaming tribes across California, including Chukchansi.
"It's going on across the country and it's something that can't be ignored," he said. "I don't have an opinion yet, but I know there's a problem."