Republican Congressman Tom McClintock visited Oakhurst Monday, finishing the day with a town hall meeting attended by about 60 people at Oakhurst Elementary School.
Much of his visit revolved around discussing Yosemite National Park's preferred alternative for the Merced River Plan, now undergoing a public comment period.
McClintock expressed unhappiness with the plan that includes the proposed removal of popular commercial services in Yosemite Valley, including the ice skating rink, bicycle and raft rentals.
"Tourists don't go where they aren't wanted," he told the Oakhurst crowd Monday night.
McClintock said there is a "radical and retrograde ideology" that has seeped into policy governing public lands that considers human beings a "bane to mother earth" that need to be expelled.
"We need to remind them that the public owns these lands," McClintock said. "They work for the public, and their responsibility is to the public in all of this."
"McClintock truly understands the issues and the negative impact on the economics of Madera County tourism should the National Park Service's Merced River Plan suggested alternative go to a decision of record," said Dan Cunning, chief executive officer for the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau, after a meeting McClintock had with the bureau Monday.
Part of Madera County and Fresno County, along with all of Mariposa County, fall within McClintock's new Fourth Congressional District. His district also runs through seven other counties surrounding and encompassing the Sierra Nevada mountains.
McClintock is chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee, and is a member of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands; the Budget Committee; and the Natural Resources Committee.
Recently, McClintock introduced a bill (H.R. 934) to adjust the Merced Wild and Scenic River boundary to allow a spillway at Lake McClure to be raised by 10 feet, matching a project boundary for the New Exchequer Dam.
During his Oakhurst visit, McClintock spent a lot of time discussing budget concerns, telling residents that America is experiencing a "sovereign debt crisis."
He recited part of a "chilling speech" made three years ago by former chairman of the joint chief of staff, who said the greatest national security threat is national debt -- what was at $13.5 trillion at the time, and has since jumped to $16.5 trillion, McClintock said.
"What that means is we have run up more debt in these last three years since he made that warning than the United States government had aquired in its first 200 years of existence," McClintock said. "That's how fast things are spinning out of control."
McClintock said "we have the highest corporate income tax in the industrialized world," and that "loop holes" need to be closed that exempt large corporations from paying no taxes.
Companies need to be on an even playing field, he said, without the government picking the "winners and losers in the market place."
America is borrowing money at "absolutely unprecedented levels," he said, and "there is not an excuse for a lot of the spending that is going on, and it is bankrupting our country and robbing our children of their future."
Social Security and Medicare were described as "collapsing" systems.
When Social Security was created, the average life expectancy was 62 and now it's 78 -- with most people putting $116,000 into the system and drawing out $350,000 in their remaining years, he said.
"I think the only way to save Social Security and keep it intact ... is to gradually increase the retirement age, not for those approaching retirement, but for those who are entering the system."
In response to a concern about gun violence, McClintock said the answer is not stricter gun laws. What has been proven to work is long prison sentences for criminals, and mental health services, he said.
"What astonishes me is here in California, this administration is releasing dangerous felons back onto our streets at the same time they are trying to disarm our law-abiding citizens," he said.
He received a lot of applause from Monday's audience for his response to a question about global warming.
"I guarantee you this, that whether or not we bankrupt our economy, the planet will continue to warm and cool as it has for billions of years," he said, adding that "the amount of junk science that has gone into the ideological crusade has been absolutely phenomenal."
McClintock said he is in favor of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.
"It's $7 billion dollars of private investing into the economy," he said. "It's about 20,000 American jobs; and its about half a million barrels a day of Canadian oil entering into our American market. Those are huge economic advantages at a time when this country is desperately in need of them."
McClintock received the most applause of the night after responding to a woman who asked why he did not support the Violence Against Women Act. He said the bill was unconstitutional because it would place American citizens under the jurisdiction of tribal courts.
"I'm not going to vote for a bill just because it sounds good," McClintock said. "You can't tell a bill by its title."
After a meeting McClintock had with the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce Monday afternoon, chamber president Greg Chappel said they were pleased with McClintock's commitment to "work diligently to defeat or modify the proposed Merced River Plan in order to insure the continuation of popular recreational activities in Yosemite, as well as providing for maximum public access to Yosemite and Forest Service lands" and that the chamber was also quite pleased that McClintock is taking a "very firm position in opposition to any favored treatment of any one of the gateway communities by the Park Service."
"I'm impressed with the efforts of Congressman McClintock and his staff to engage the constituents in the new areas of his district," said Darin Soukup, executive director of the chamber. "We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate on a regular basis."