Hensarling holds meet in J’ville

by By Cristin Parker news@mediactr.com

U.S. Representative Jen Hensarling (TX-5) spoke to about 30 area residents during a townhall meeting held Wednesday, Aug. 8, in Jacksonville.

Topics explored included the national debt, better veteran care, President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and other issues the U.S. needs to address.

“I know I’m not running for election,” Hensarling said after being introduced by Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis, “so why am I here? It’s my job to do what you, the voters, want me to do. And an important part of having me remain accountable to you, is holding public hearings and townhall meetings like this one.

“I live in Henderson County, I don’t live in Washington. I’ve never forgotten the seat I hold is not mine, it’s yours. It’s owned by the people of this district.”

One of the more positive points Hensarling brought up during the meeting was, “The country is currently experiencing the single best economy we’ve had in years. Unemployment is at a 50-year low, take-home pay is rising -- and that’s largely due to the 90 percent tax relief program passed by Congress and signed by Trump. I’m very happy to have played a small part in passing the single most important tax reform plan in a generation.

“But the country still faces a lot of great challenges,” Hensarling continued, “Strong economic growth takes care of a lot of challenges, though.”

Hensarling also touched on the national debt crisis.

“I leave office with some regrets,” he said. “One of those is not being able to convince more of my colleagues of the importance of getting rid of our debt. Our spending is unsustainable, our national debt is unsustainable – there will be a day of reckoning, like what we’re seeing in Greece, national bankruptcy. And it’s going to be ugly.”

Hensarling blames Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for the nation’s rising debt.

“Social Security isn’t going to around for my son,” he promised, motioning to his 14-year-old who attended the meeting with Hensarling. “Medicare is set to go broke by 2026, Social Security by 2034. We can do three things with Social Security – raise taxes, cut benefits or make it generate compound interest – let younger workers take their Social Security in a fund that will grow as they grow.”

One man in the audience shared his concerns with Pres. Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

“I share your concerns,” Hensarling answered. “I hope his strategy proves to be beneficial, but I think he’s playing with fire. We need to be exporting more, not importing less and a tariff is a tax. If this trade policy doesn’t’ work, it’s going to take all the economic growth we’ve made away. And while he’s seemingly called a truce, we need to focus more on uniting the rest of the world against our main foe, China.”

One resident who only gave his first name, Al, suggested raising the fuel tax 10 cents to help pay to fix the country’s roads and bridges.

“I know in Europe they pay two times as much for fuel as we do,” he said. “I don’t think it would be noticed that much.”

Several people in the audience expressed their concerns about the way the country’s veterans are treated, or not treated, as the case may be.

Jacksonville resident Cindy Kline, who came in a bit late, thanked Hensarling and his staff for recent assistance they lent to getting local veteran Lt. Randy Vanderstay medical care through the VA.

“If we don’t break down these barriers, we’re not doing our vets any good,” Kline said. “We shouldn’t have had to call our Congressman’s office to get this veteran medical help. We are grateful you and your staff stepped in and we’re glad we got it worked out, but this isn’t right.

“It should not be this difficult to get these men and women the medical help and treatment they’ve earned.”

A Vietnam vet in the audience also spoke up.

“The most frustrating part is the system wants to fight your claims,” he said. “I’ve spent nine years filing on a medical issue that they decided wasn’t a medical issue that stemmed from my service. How do I know I’m not dying of that? I just don’t know who to trust anymore. I appreciate the call on my behalf, but that only helps me. My brothers and sisters need help, too.”