Hensarling: Democrats on debt commission haven’t proposed cutting or restraining spending 

“I don’t know,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, responded to a question from the Examiner. “If you’re saying what spending reductions are Democrats looking at, I don’t know.” He has not heard any discussion of restraint on spending from Democratic members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, even though he has frequently heard the refrain “everything is on the table.”

The fact that former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., has been named the Republican co-chair of the commission has led to suspicion that the panel is a mere stalking horse for politically unpopular tax increases. Americans for Tax Reform notes that Simpson has consistently voted to increase taxes here. So-called bipartisan budgets with Simpson's support have included both tax increases and spending cuts, but only the tax increases were sustained.

In a meeting with reporters, Hensarling expressed his disappointment with the president for not putting forward a plan: “He acknowledges the longterm structural debt that we have in the nation. Yet he himself has not put forward a plan to go with it. And nobody has the bully pulpit that the president has.”

Hensarling said that he’s unhappy with the structure of the commission. “This is not designed the way I would have designed it for success,” he said, “but if you care passionately about these issues as I do, then it’s the only game in town." He also criticized President Obama for not putting forward a plan. "I know one member of Congress from Wisconsin certainly put forth a plan. If he could find the resources and time to do it, I would hope the president of the United States could find time to do it.”

Asked if he’s also concerned about the presence of former president of the Service Employees International Union Andy Stern on the panel, Hensarling said that he had been concerned from the get-go about how the commission was constituted. “[Stern]’s probably concerned that I’m there, though.”

About The Author

J.P. Freire

J.P. Freire is the associate editor of commentary. Previously he was the managing editor of the American Spectator. Freire was named journalist of the year for 2009 by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). You can follow him on Twitter here. Besides the Spectator, Freire's work has appeared in... more
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