The Terrell Tribune: Jeb Hensarling holds town hall meeting
Congressman Jeb Hensarling answered a wide variety of questions at Friday’s town hall in Kaufman, but many concerned the Affordable Care Act along with the related subject of tax reform.
He also paused to present an American flag flown over the U.S Capitol to Howard Banks of Kaufman.
The 92-year-old World War Two veteran who served at Iwo Jima made news recently when he was attacked outside his home when he thought someone was trying to remove his American flag.
He had already had a prior flag stolen, as well as his Marine Corps flag damaged.
“Every veteran is deserving of honor,” Hensarling said, and Banks is still fighting for the nation’s flag.
“I will guard and protect it always,” Banks said.
Hensarling opened the town hall, held to an overflow crowd at the Kaufman County Library, saying that everyone has the right and privilege to tell him anything they want.
But he added that he is concerned with the tenor of political debate in America.
His remarks came just a day before deadly violence erupted in Charlottesville, Va. as protesters and counter protesters clashed.
“We all stood and pledged allegiance to the same flag,” he said.
Hensarling, who classifies himself as a conservative Republican, told the crowd that he sits right next to one of the most liberal Democratic members of Congress, Maxine Waters, and she has the right to have her views respected.
Although he disagrees with almost everything she stands for, they have been able to work together to pass bipartisan legislation.
The proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act drew several questions.
Hensarling noted that the House of Representatives has passed a bill, but the U.S. Senate has not. Congress is on a 72-hour recall, in case legislators are needed back in Washington on the health care debate, he noted.
“I am frustrated too,” he said to a question about the Senate’s inability to pass a bill.
“I will continue to work,” he said. ”I have a voice in the debate.”
Not a week goes by that he doesn’t hear from residents of the Fifth District about rising insurance premiums and deductibles.
He said there are thoughtful Democrats who agree the ACA is not working.
One of the challenges is writing rules for the transition from the ACA.
In a related area, Hensarling said that if nothing is done, Medicare will not be around, and something has got to be done to preserve it for future generations.
Many other bills have been approved by the House but are held up in the Senate.
He discussed reforms to benefit veterans and regulatory reform.
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which was formed during the Obama administration, should not have so much power.
“They are uniquely unaccountable to the president, to Congress and to the judiciary,” he said.
He said he is cautiously optimistic that Congress can tackle tax reform, but that the ACA debate has held up progress.
The Congressman was questioned about the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and said there are sections that need an actual wall and sections that need a virtual wall, and there are remote areas where a wall is not practical.
Turning to foreign policy, especially as it relates to North Korea, Hensarling said the current leader, Kim Jung-un, is even more worrisome and erratic than his father or grandfather. There is no doubt, he said, that the U.S. military is capable of eliminating the threat.
China is the key to diplomacy, he said, and does not want a conflagration on its southern border.
Hensarling said he is still concerned with long-term threats of terrorism in Afghanistan.
“This remains a very dangerous world,” he said. “We have allowed our defense capabilities to erode.
To a question about the apparent disarray in Washington, Hensarling said he likes to read biographies of the Founding Fathers, and the political rancor in the early days of the nation was much more.
“We would be a stronger nation if we respected each other’s views,” he said.
There is some bipartisan work going on behind the scenes, but it doesn’t make news.
Asked whether he morally supported the president, Hensarling said he would not try to defend or explain every presidential Tweet.
But he support’s Donald Trump’s vision for America and is excited about a president who wants to make America stronger.
To a question about a proposal for a convention of states, to return more control to them, he said that he is willing to take a gamble.
“There is too much power in Washington,” he said. The government has become too large and is intrusive and arrogant.
“I’m befuddled how we have allowed lawmaking to the unelected,” he said. “That’s not a good road.”
There are a lot of good people trying to make positive changes, but the system is lousy, he said.
“I have not abandoned all hope,” he said. “We never cease trying to find common ground.”