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Amarillo Globe News Online - Thornberry: Lawmakers Face Tough Decisions

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By Russell Anglin

America is reaching a turning point in how it manages money, said U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, on Monday at a Downtown Amarillo Kiwanis Club luncheon meeting.

"We are rapidly approaching the time, and it's coming at the end of this year, where we will no longer be kicking the can down the road, putting our problems off," Thornberry said. "One way or another, through action or inaction, we will make decisions that will affect … the country we live in."

Thornberry said looming deadlines require lawmakers' attention, including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts in January, which will raise taxes for virtually every working American. He also mentioned the urgency for legislators to prevent billions of dollars in automatic cuts to defense spending and domestic programs, which will come as a result of a congressional super committee failing to reach a consensus on how to manage the federal budget.

Even though Congress faces disputes over which federal programs to cut, which programs to keep and how to reduce the deficit, Thornberry said one upside to all the controversy over the federal budget is people are focused on important issues.

"At least now we're talking about issues that are fundamental to the future of the country, of the role of government in our lives, about how we can have an economy that will grow and increase jobs, about what our vital national security interests are," Thornberry said. "We're talking about the big stuff, and I think that's good news."

Answering a question about the cattle industry, Thornberry decried federal environmental regulations, which he said limit the ability for ranchers, farmers, and oil companies to make money.

"There are policies of the federal government that tie our hands and make it harder to produce livestock, crops, oil and gas from the land," Thornberry said. "If you ask me what some of the biggest challenges our region is going to face in the years to come, it is that very thinking."

Thornberry also touched on the war in Afghanistan, which has recently faced a sharp decline in support among Americans, The Associated Press reported. He emphasized the threat of international terrorism is still real He said U.S. forces should remain in Afghanistan "as long as we are being productive … in helping the Afghans to be able to provide their own security so that al-Qaida and the Taliban do not come and create a base from which to launch an attack against us."

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