U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington meets with officials in Breckenridge, gives update on several key issues
U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington met with city and county officials Tuesday in Breckenridge and gave updates related to the national level, as well as issues rural areas such as Stephens County and Breckenridge are facing.
Over the course of the talk, Arrington hit on a variety of issues, including the economy and welfare state, healthcare, taxes, defense, President Donald Trump and the state of Washington D.C. His message contained a mix of praising what is happening nationally under Trump and the turning tides in several areas but acknowledged a lot of the benefits have not yet come back to rural America and there are several issues that have not yet been fully addressed.
Agriculture, the economy and welfare
Agriculture, and more specifically a farm bill, has been a key point of emphasis in Arrington’s first term. The farm bill Arrington has asked for in several different committees and speeches includes assisting farmers more so they and their goods can remain profitable and helpful to the community. This involves things such as providing a social safety net and reforms on numerous social programs.
“We need freer markets, fairer trade, a good strong farm bill, and sustainable rural communities.”
Arrington said rural areas are more impacted by stricter rules and regulations than other areas. And despite an economy he raved about in terms of its growth and employment, areas like the one he represents are some of the last ones to see the impact of a booming economy. He compared the U.S.’ corporate tax rate to other countries, which has been one of the highest in the world, according to Tax Foundation. Arrington said if we can lower that and give companies and entrepreneurs a chance to compete, they would be successful.
“The framers had it right,” Arrington said. “If you limit the federal government …. As we’ve reined it in, especially in tax and regulation, we’re seeing a comeback. And it’s awesome.”
Speaking on welfare, he said he supports providing a social safety net but also having a work requirement for such benefits. He said he would rather it be on the state and local level to help better protect against fraud, but said the point is to provide a safety net.
“I’m not against the welfare safety net for people who fall on hard times or people who are working hard and still can’t make ends meet,” Arrington said. “If you can work and you’re able to work then you ought to have to work to receive assistance.”
He added the requirements are not steadfast and the situation can vary, but the overall goal is to get people out of what he called the welfare trap.
Work ethic was something that came up a few times during the conversation. Breckenridge Mayor Bob Sims asked about why people are not willing to work anymore and added it will take a while to turn around. Arrington agreed and said it is a culture change that needs to take place.
Arrington moved from welfare to the trade war with China and said he doesn’t like the tariffs but believes it had to be done to stifle China’s trade practices, which he said have hurt the U.S. in a variety of industries.
“Now I’m not trying to say that a tariff trade war is good, but I think it’s time to fight back,” Arrington said.
Telling a story about the first time he had a meeting with Trump, Arrington said Trump had acknowledged the fallout farmers were feeling regarding the trade war. But said Trump vowed he would find a way to help the farmers deal with these short-term pains. Arrington went on to say he told Trump about the issues rural Texas is facing. He ended by saying he believes Trump will do right by the people, saying no president before Trump has attacked his campaign promises as he has.
“You can argue, you can debate and you can dislike, like or hate the president,” Arrington said. “But one thing you have to respect is he is just trying to do everything he said he’d do on the campaign.”
Arrington also applauded Trump for improving the military after years of cutbacks. Arrington cited a statistic that shows the military has been cut by $200 billion over the last decade, which is a 20 percent reduction. The statistic most likely comes from the military budget in 2010 being about $720 billion, and in 2016, President Barack Obama’s last term, being approximately 580 billion, according to the Department of Defense. A difference of a less than $150 billion, or approximately 20 percent.
He said he was proud to be part of the Congress that gave the military its largest increase in the last decade. Over the last two years, Trump and Congress have increased military spending by over $160 billion, passing defense budget totaling over $700 billion for 2019.
Arrington went on to echo an idea he said earlier that he does not like to fight. But if you draw a red line and people violate it, you have to be willing to stand your ground. An example he used was when Trump bombed Syria twice and dropped the largest conventional bomb on record in Afghanistan.
“Let’s be clear. This president has been strong, he’s been firm and he’s restored Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of peace through strength,” Arrington said.
Wrapping up and questions
Arrington concluded his speech after about 20 minutes, ending on his overall goal. He said he is grateful to be able to represent his area and said if he does not ultimately contribute to changing the culture in Washington, he believes he would have failed. His two overarching goals in this area are to help restore civility and change the environment to make it more productive in the capital. He finished by saying outside of the military, the long-term threat to the U.S. is the debt and the necessity to reel in spending.
After the speech, he took questions from officials, including Breckenridge ISD Tim Seymore, who asked about the level of unproductivity in Washington, as well as how the education system is based on a broken philosophy that needs to be changed fundamentally rather than have more money thrown at it.
He also received questions regarding his thoughts on the midterm elections, saying he believes they can gain seats in the Senate but the House will be tough. Some history he gave is the majority party typically loses over 30 seats in midterm elections, but the Republicans currently have 236, needing 218 to have a majority. Losing those seats would cost the Republicans their majority. But he said due to the economy, he believes there is a chance they can avoid that skid.
Arrington is the incumbent for U.S. Congressional District 19 of the state of Texas. He is up for re-election and will face Miguel Levario in the general come Nov. 6.