President Barack Obama has mishandled economic issues, with American citizens paying the price, says former Rep. Pete Hoekstra.
And the Michigan Republican told Newsmax.TV that he sees former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the best GOP candidate to take Obama down in next year’s election.
“A Republican candidate can beat this president,” said Hoekstra, who served as ranking Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee during his 1993-2011 tenure in Congress. “This economy is in sad shape.”
Gasoline prices over $4 a gallon are one sign. He also pointed to falling consumer confidence, falling housing prices, falling growth in manufacturing, and rising joblessness.
Just Friday, the government reported that unemployment climbed to 9.1 percent in May from 9.0 percent in April.
“This president has had more than 2½ years to put his economic policies in place. They haven’t helped America,” Hoekstra said.
And that’s why he’s supporting Romney.
As Romney and other Republican candidates go through the campaign, “if they focus on President Obama and his policies rather than negative primaries where they tear each other apart, . . . we will be able to defeat President Obama,” Hoekstra said.
Perhaps the most important congressional issue now is whether to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. If that doesn’t happen by early August, White House officials warn, the government risks defaulting on its debt.
But Hoekstra says default isn’t in the cards. “There’s plenty of money coming into the government every day. That will make sure we won’t default,” he said. Instead, “a lot of government programs will have to be scaled back.”
Hoekstra estimates that Congress will lift the debt limit by about $2 trillion. “Hopefully for that we will get significant reforms on entitlement spending, a rollback of some rules and regulations, maybe some tax cuts to get people buying and consumer confidence back.”
Hoekstra lauded House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which the House approved.
“Paul put a program out that we all ought to look at seriously,” Hoekstra said. “It has fundamental reforms of Medicare so that for people under 55, there will actually be a government program out there to support them.”
Although Hoekstra doesn’t back every element of the Wisconsin Republican’s plan, he “absolutely” supports the overall direction. Ryan deserves tremendous credit, Hoekstra said. “He put something out there that’s a beginning point for serious discussion.”
Unfortunately Obama rebuffed it. “Paul has led, and the president hasn’t,” Hoekstra said.
He strongly hopes Republicans’ willingness to tackle Medicare reform doesn’t hurt them in the 2012 elections. The GOP is addressing the fundamental problems causing high unemployment and economic uncertainty, Hoekstra says.
“If this discussion doesn’t take place, we’ll continue to see stagnation in our economy. That hurts a lot of people,” he said. “If Republicans lose on this issue, it means we’ll just kick this can down the road for another five to 10 years.”
But Hoekstra is optimistic that Republican will generate a strong message. “Americans know we’re in trouble,” he said. “Hopefully, they will recognize that Republicans are the only ones that have put forth a serious plan to address it.”
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