Good, Throneburg offer differing visions on defense’s role in local economy

We are very close to the election, and many people have already cast their ballots. Many more will do so as early in-person voting and they have until Saturday at 5 p.m. to do so. In our part of Virginia, the main item on the ballot this year are elections of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

In October, the Chambers of Commerce in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, and Danville areas invited the two people seeking election to the Fifth District Congressional to have a virtual conversation. Republican Bob Good and Democrat Josh Throneburg sat down in two separate chats, but this newsletter and podcast puts them together.

Yesterday’s version presented the opening statements, but now we’ll get into the questions. Here’s Barry Butler, the director of government relations for the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance. 

“Areas that we’re going to be covering today:” Butler said. “ National defense; regulation and taxation; workforce development; economic development; public safety; and public health.” 

We won’t get to all of those today, but let’s start with national defense. Here’s Nick DiGeorgio, a financial advisor with United Bank who is on the defense committees for both the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance and the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

“National and security defense spending by the federal government are a massive part of Virginia’s overall economy,” DiGeorgio said. “While to a lesser degree than along Virginia’s Golden Crescent, the [Department of Defense] has significant investments up and down the U.S. 29 corridor. For example: 

  • In the Charlottesville region, more than 4,500 workers are employed by the U.S. Army National Ground Intelligence Center, the U.S. Department of Defense intelligence agencies, and the private defense and intelligence contractors, which represents an estimated $1 billion in annual local payroll. 
  • Global leaders in nuclear energy and manufacturing, such as BWXT which produces small modular nuclear reactors for the submarine fleets and Framatome call the Lynchburg region home. 
  • Recently the United States Navy launched an additive manufacturing center of excellence at the Danville Institute of Advance Learning and Research and a larger training facility to be built nearby. 

“National defense authorization acts come up for renewal each year. Tell us some about the ways you would protect that federal investment in our local economy and what steps you would take to support this  large sector of our economy,” DiGeorgio concluded. 

Candidate Throneburg on national defense and the local economy

Bob Good went first yesterday, so let’s hear first today from Democrat Josh Throneburg. The written version just features some of the highlights, but the audio contains the whole response. You are also encouraged to watch the videos, with links below.

“There was a joint [Department of Defense] luncheon that we had here in Charlottesville a few months ago that was really laying out kind of the relationship between some of those entities and the local economy and we heard a lot about the really incredible numbers in terms of the employment and the local kind of economic importance of those groups and I think what I can say is that I will, number one, work to have a full understanding of those things and I have already begun to do that,” Throneburg said. 

“We want to create the kind of environment that brings opportunity into the district, the kind of opportunity that not only has jobs and that, but where we have great schools and where families want to move here, where there’s affordable housing and they feel like this is a place that they can call home,” the Democratic candidate answered. 

“Part of supporting and maintaining that great work is also having the kinds of communities that are going to draw great folks in who want to work in those spaces,” Throneburg said. “And then to support and encourage the kinds of incredible investment that we have at the level that you’re talking about.” 

“My thing is compassion and common sense,” Throneburg said. “That’s the framework through which I try to look at all things and certainly when you look at the economic investments of these groups in Charlottesville and down all the way through the district, we have a huge reliance on that so I want to make sure that we protect that, we preserve it, and offer opportunities for it grow and increase. Especially Pittsylvania County. We have some opportunities to bring in more and more opportunity for creating jobs. We’ve got a ready site down there that I think can put up to 6,000 or 7,000 workers if we have the right facility. I think those are the kinds of opportunities that we want to push.” 

Incumbent Good on national defense and the local economy

When this question was asked of Congressman Good, the Chambers of Commerce added a question. Let’s skip ahead to that part. 

“In the past, you have voted against the annual National Defense Authorization Act,” DiGeorgio said. “Tell us about some of the ways you are protecting the federal investment in our local economy and what steps you would take to support this  large sector of our economy.” 

Good had a long response and all of the audio is in the podcast version. He began by thanking DiGeorgio for mentioning the  Danville Institute of Advance Learning and Research. 

“The reemergence of Danville is really wonderful to see,” Good said.”I’ve been just privileged to be part of that, to encourage that to support.” 

“But to speak to the National Defense Authorization Act and defense spending in general, let me frame it again,” Good said. “Because this must always frame every discussion that we have about spending on the federal level. And some people don’t like this. And sometimes this is not popular. So people don’t want to hear the truth on this,” Good continued. 

“But the fact is, we have $31 trillion in national debt. That is $90,000 per citizen. It’s about $250,000 per taxpayer, meaning those are actually paying taxes. We are running at record deficit levels. In other words, increasing the national debt like we never had before. Our debt again, versus our [Gross Domestic Product] is the highest it’s been since World War Two. “However, unlike the World War Two generation, we’re not in any position to pay off our debt, we’re making no real serious efforts to pay off our debt. 

“I’m on the Budget Committee,” Good continued. “We’re on track in the next 30 years to be $131 trillion in national debt… Right now, we pay about $500 billion dollars a year just to service the debt. That’s just interest on the debt without touching the principal. And that’s before the new increased interest rates begin to take their full effect in the next 20 to 30 years, that’s gonna go to over two, five to $6 trillion a year, just to service the debt, far more to service the debt than our total budget is currently. 

“We have to be reminded that the federal government has no money. For that matter no government has. Government only has money that it takes from its citizens. 

“Now, to your point about national defense, national defense issues, and national defense spending should be based upon national security, military readiness, military effectiveness, and should not be made in the interest of spending or or investment in a community or jobs in a community even as primary. 

“It’s about the national security. It’s about national defense. It’s not about special interest groups or somebody’s district where they have spending on national defense that benefits them politically, it’s got to be based on national defense, national security, American national security interest first has to be the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is about $800 billion. 

“I voted against it two or three times now each time it’s come up. It’s going to come up again… and I’m actually part of a letter that I just sent with my colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus, to… Senator McConnell and Leader McCarthy, saying all Republicans should oppose the NDAA. In its current form, all Republicans should…

“No Republicans should vote for the NDAA in its current form, so that we can force a clean bill that prioritizes national security, national defense and eliminates all the bad stuff. Number one, number one in that was we need to end the vaccine mandates on our troops.

“We have dismissed or discharged some 100,000 troops because they didn’t get a vaccine they didn’t want and didn’t need, 25-year-old healthy individuals who’ve had COVID many times over like we all have by now have natural immunity or are not susceptible. 45-year-olds nearing retirement who got discharged, I’ve had scores of them reach out to me personally begging me for help. It’s an egregious violation of our freedoms and our military readiness that we’re kicking out members of our military at a time by the way, when we’re reaching about 40 to 50% of our recruitment goals for all the branches. We are also having the academies reach out to us because they’re not getting the applications they used to get and they’re they’re just putting out word just that applications are way down… With their feet, the American people are saying they have concerns about this commander in chief, this military leadership. And what we’re asking for in the NDAA, as again to reverse the vaccine mandate immediately, and restore back to the military with all benefits, all compensation, those who were discharged improperly because of the vaccine, number one. 

“Number two, we need to eliminate everything in the NDAA that’s has to do with woke ideology, critical race theory, diversity, equity and inclusion that has nothing to do with net military readiness, radical transgender policies, you know, joint, you know, bathrooms and things for trans gender, we need to eliminate all of that military funding because it has no place in our military to make us more effective to to deter wars or to win wars if necessary. Same thing on the climate, environmental extremism that’s in the military. We’ve got in there converting our military to electric vehicles. Think about that in the theater of war, that we would have electric vehicles for our military, when we got in there requiring our planes to fly on sustainable fuel, which costs two to three times as much has nothing to do with military readiness. 

“The President told the military that the greatest threat to the country when he first got inaugurated was climate extremists, or climate, environmental issues. I can only imagine this administration when Putin invaded Ukraine said how can they do that without considering the climate implications? John Kerry went hand in hand pleading with the Russians not to invade Ukraine because of the climate, how embarrassing to the United States to show the weakness that we did with that. And of course, Putin didn’t care. General Lloyd Austin when he was put in place, as the Secretary of Defense, he told the military that and we were told that we needed him he said, The greatest threat to the military was white supremacy and racism in the ranks. That is a lie, to demonize our military to disparage our military like that. It’s just not true

“And then what they’re doing now is they’re purging conservatives, patriots, Trump supporters out of the military, we are weakening our military… it’s a disaster, what we’re doing and with that all needs to be taken out of the defense bill. 

“Finally, we also need an inspector general’s investigation, to be an inspector general to point to investigate the US involvement in Ukraine, how that money is being spent, how it’s being utilized, what the US is doing behind the scenes, in terms of supporting Ukraine in a way the American people may not know about that in terms of escalating our involvement in that war, as we sit on the brink of nuclear war, according to the President, and according to some in his administration. 

“So I will proudly vote against the NDAA in its current form. And I am loudly exhorting my Republican colleagues to do the same, so we can defeat it and force a good clean defense bill that truly puts military readiness at the forefront.” 

The full responses for both candidates are in the audio. 

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