Rep. Jeb Hensarling Talks Tough

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) understands that ending wasteful spending — typified in Congressional earmarks — and lowering taxes two of the keys to bringing to a quick close to what may be an economic recession. And he doesn’t comprehend why others don’t.

The Chairman of the Republican Study Committee and former Chairman of the RSC Budget and Spending Taskforce sees government intervention in market forces as the demise of economic prosperity. At a breakfast meeting yesterday morning sponsored by The American Spectator, Hensarling said with Democrats in control of Congress, free market conservatives have to “play defense” on most issues, “measuring success in smaller increments.”

Hensarling is leading the latest initiative for a total earmark moratorium though even fellow Republicans are reluctant to sign on. But he is satisfied that presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain supports transparency and eliminating earmarks. McCain has said he will veto any bill with earmarks attached.

“I do not believe that Republicans will be able to reform until…we get earmarks right and regain fiscal responsibility…,"said Hensarling.

The free market module extends to the housing crisis, where, Hensarling said, “the greatest victim is about to be the U.S. taxpayer.” He noted that mortgage fraud has increased 1,000% in the last four years and there is a “whole universe of people that do not come to this bailout table with clean hands.”

“No one’s going to take away the rubble while they’re waiting for government bailout,” he said.

Democrats have labeled Republicans “do-nothings” on the mortgage crisis but Hensarling spotlighted the Economic Growth Plan of 2008, which will unlock billions of dollars in capital to be used for troubled markets.

Economic trends affect every issue including presidential campaigns, the war in Iraq and national defense — which the Bush Administration has made first priority — and Hensarling doesn’t think that’s a problem.

“What price to you put on the nation avoiding another 9/11?” he asked, adding that if you put it in perspective, “the amount of money we’ve spent on the war in the past 5 years is only enough to run the federal government for 5 to 6 months.”

He said Democrats continually try to “create a dichotomy that if but for Iraq, we’d live in heavenly bliss,” though they ignore how their tax increases and entitlement programs thwart the economy much more.

Sen. McCain was not best-loved by conservatives but they are gradually coming to accept him as their candidate. Hensarling agrees, because — he says — McCain is the conservative who can win by drawing moderate and independent votes.

Hensarling claimed most of the country does not like Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama is “more liberal than avowed socialist Bernie Sanders,” so both Democrats will have a battle against McCain.

“Policies and principles matter,” said Hensarling. “And I have a hard time believing that the most liberal guy in the Senate is the guy that is going to bring this nation together.”

But, he admits that the media portrays Obama as less liberal than he really is, noting that “the media will poll about 20 points more liberal than the nation as a whole.” Plus, he noted, McCain — though clashing with Republicans on issues like immigration reform — stands strong for two major issues “near and dear” to their hearts: winning the war against radical Islam and controlling spending.

Hensarling disagreed with McCain on immigration as well but said he believes McCain has adopted the “border security first position.”

When it comes to the war in Iraq and the global war on terror, McCain is the best man to lead America, according to Hensarling, who noted that “Iraq should be top priority on the budget list” because the purpose of the federal government is to protect the American people.

“I have concluded that the worst thing for our national security would be a precipitous retreat,” said Hensarling.

Last, Hensarling touched on the issue of NAFTA and free trade when asked if there was a united conservative position he could convey. He said Republicans and conservatives do disagree on the matter but to him, it is the “liberty of free trade.”

“It is the fundamental economic liberty of the American citizen to buy a good or service from whatever locale they choose,” he said. “Do what you do best, trade for the rest.”