Chairman Hensarling Opening Statement at Today's Hearing with Treasury Secretary Lew
Dec 12, 2013 -
Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at today’s full committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
The committee meets today again to receive the annual testimony of the Secretary of Treasury in reforming both the International Monetary Fund and the broader international financial system. There are important questions though that must be raised.
Undoubtedly, hardworking American taxpayers suffer from bailout fatigue – having been forced to now pay for the bailouts of AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Chrysler, GM, banks big and banks small, and most recently the Federal Housing Administration. Many Americans question the wisdom of supporting the IMF and other multilateral financial institutions that take their hard-earned dollars and use them to bail out other countries. Americans do not want to be part of a bailout nation any more than they wish to be part of a bailout planet.
An important question at the outset is whether the administration’s credibility has been compromised and has compromised our ability to reform multilateral financial institutions. An American president’s most awe-inspiring power may not be the ability to launch a drone strike, but that when he speaks, the world listens. And the world listens because the president’s words are backed by the moral authority of the United States of America.
Lately, that moral authority of our nation has been under question by the words of our president. Whether it is an erased red line in Syria, a deal with Iran that dismantles numerous sanctions but does not end the terrorist regime’s march toward a nuclear bomb, or revelations about spying on our allies, we now live in a world where too many of our friends no longer trust us and too many of our adversaries no longer fear us.
This collapse in confidence and credibility is not confined to foreign lands. Here at home, millions of Americans took President Obama at his word when he promised – no fewer than 36 times – that they could keep their health insurance if they liked it. They now know better.
Next, although the last couple of months have brought some welcome news on the jobs front, Americans continue to suffer through the slowest, weakest recovery in generations. Thus, regardless of the wisdom, many Americans now rightfully question our ability to continue supporting multilateral financial institutions like the IMF.
When President Obama took office nearly five years ago, he was able to pass every major piece of legislation he wanted: the stimulus, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, the largest tax increase in our nation’s history, and the results speak for themselves: poverty is up, income inequality is up, the debt has never been higher, small businesses are drowning in the greatest sea of red tape in our nation’s history, and the number of Americans in the labor force is at its lowest level in 30 years.
Five years into these policies, hardship and anxiety abound. Just listen to what I hear from my constituents in the Fifth Congressional District of Texas. People like Nancy of Dallas who wrote to tell me: “I have been looking for a job for close to two years…God has blessed me with mini-jobs, on and off, but that does not pay the bills.” From Marcia in Reklaw, Texas who said: “I have spent more time unemployed in the last four years than I have employed.” John from Alba in my district writes that he has had to close his business and says: “I’m 70 years old and I have tried to find a job, but no one wants to hire a 70 year old when so many younger people are out of work.” These people deserve better than the results of this administration’s economic policies.
Which brings us back to this central truth: you cannot strengthen and reform the global economy without first strengthening and reforming the American economy. It means respect for the rule of law, both fundamental tax reform and tax relief, freezing federal red tape that is hindering job creation, and giving one-sixth of the economy that is health care back to the American people. And it also means ceasing to spend money we do not have. The single-greatest threat to a stronger economy is our growing national debt. Witness the national debt clock to my left and right. This is a debt that has mushroomed under this president. Never in our history have so few indebted so many, so quickly with such dangerous implications. We know our debt is unconscionable, it is unsustainable and, frankly I believe it to be immoral. Yet this president dismisses the threat at every opportunity and I fear leads a parade of Washington debt deniers.
Under the current policies we have, it is not a question of whether a debt crisis will come; it is a matter of when. For the sake of our economy, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our freedom, I would call upon the president to work with Congress now to avoid this catastrophe. Our nation deserves better.