Hensarling: Senate AWOL on Current Budget

Thursday, 31 Mar 2011 09:53 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling says since the Senate still has not come up with a budget plan for the current fiscal year, House Republicans are left to negotiate amongst themselves — and as far as he is concerned, he would like to see further cuts to the bill they already passed.

hensarling, senate, budget“The House Republicans have already passed a bill to keep the government open, to start putting the nation on a fiscally sustainable path — but, obviously what we don’t have is, we don’t have a [Senate] bill,” Hensarling said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“Not only do we not have a bill out of the Senate — we don’t even have a plan out of the Senate. So we’re kind of left to negotiate with ourselves,” he said. “If we’re going to negotiate with ourselves, personally, I’d like to cut more spending, which ultimately I believe will help create more jobs in America.”

Host Joe Scarborough asked Hensarling how much more he would like to see cut. The Texas congressman said although the House bill would slash more than $60 billion from this year’s fiscal expenditure, it is only a “whopping” 2 percent of the federal budget and — while historic — “it’s hardly draconian.”

“Sometimes, Joe, you’ve got to stop spending money you don’t have,” Hensarling said. “We’re borrowing, as you probably know, roughly 40 cents on the dollar — much of it from the Chinese — sending the bill to our children and grandchildren. It hurts job growth, it threatens our national security.”

Scarborough asked Hensarling, who was a member of President Barack Obama’s debt commission, whether Republicans are willing “to go after” entitlements — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

“When you say ‘go after,’ what we’re ready to do is save and secure them for future generations,” Hensarling said. “The American people deserve the facts — don’t take my word for it — go to the website of the trustees for Medicare and Social Security, and they will tell you that these are programs that are going broke.

“ I served on the president’s fiscal responsibility commission, and even though the Social Security portion of that plan was not my plan, in order to save it for my children, I’m certainly willing to put that on the table,” he added. “Ultimately I would have another plan, but again these are programs that are going broke.

“If you don’t embrace a reform plan, Joe, you’re embracing the status quo,” Hensarling continued. “And the status quo — under law — is that my children get an automatic 22 percent cut.”

Hensarling was asked whether he would be willing to see tax increases, which according to the debt commission’s recommendations would need to be part of a package to preserve future entitlements. Hensarling replied to increase taxes you have to “have a mechanism to ensure it’s paying off the debt.”

“They have tax increases in the plan, but there is no guarantee that those tax increases simply won’t be used for more spending,” he said. “The reason I walked away from the plan, and a lot of good portions of that plan ought to be brought to the attention of the American people — and I might add, the president of the United States rejected every single provision of his own fiscal commission responsibility plan — fundamentally, healthcare was not on the table.”

“If you don’t have healthcare on the table, you’re not solving the problem.”

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