This morning, The American Spectator hosted Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) as part of our Newsmaker Breakfast series. Hensarling is chairman of the Republican Study Committee and we discussed the efforts of House conservatives — always a minority — to influence the agenda in a Democratic Congress.
Hensarling rebutted the notion that conservatives take a “do nothing” approach to the mortgage crisis and economic anxieties, pointing to a bill called the Economic Growth Act of 2008. The legislation would index capital gains to inflation, allow companies to fully deduct the purchase of new assets, and reduce the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 25 percent. Hensarling argued such moves would “unlock billions of dollars of capital,” promote job creation, and enhance global competitiveness.
Other RSC initiatives include efforts to ensure that President Bush’s vetoes of bloated spending bills are sustained and earmark reform. Hensarling conceded that earmarks a very small percentage of federal expenditures but argued they are a big part of “the culture of spending.” He predicted that with John McCain as the presidential nominee, more Republican congressional candidates would oppose earmarks and excessive spending. Hensarling defended current Iraq spending, argued for ANWR drilling, and said he would promote free trade with his last breath.
Hensarling was optimistic about McCain’s chances in November, pointing to Hillary Clinton’s high negatives and Barack Obama’s Senate voting record, which the congressman characterized as “more liberal than avowed socialist Bernie Sanders from Vermont.” Hensarling called McCain “a conservative who can win,” pointing to his appeal among moderates and independents. But Hensarling was less optimistic that the Democratic majority would promote many RSC legislative items. “I doubt a bill with my name on it could pass this Congress,” he said.
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