Chairman Hensarling Delivers Opening Statement at Hearing with HUD Secretary Ben Carson

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WASHINGTON, June 28 – (RealEstateRama) — Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at today’s full committee hearing with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson:

Financial Services Committee

As we all know, HUD was established almost 50 years ago. When it was established, President Johnson said it was essential to the war on poverty, but unfortunately, 50 years later – not to mention $1.6 trillion later – the poverty level in our country has barely changed.

There’s no doubt that HUD programs help a number of our citizens and are a critical part of the nation’s social safety net. But when I look at the data and when I look into the faces of our fellow citizens who seem to be trapped in lives of dependency, it’s hard not to conclude that HUD has failed far too many for far too long.

It doesn’t appear to be from lack of resources. Over the last 20 years, the HUD budget has doubled, whereas the family budget, which pays for it, has increased by less than double digits. In fact, HUD’s budget has grown faster than almost every other federal budget function, including social security, education, and national defense.

HUD resources have not been the challenge, HUD’s focus and success has been. Again, when President Johnson helped launch HUD, he said its purpose was, “not only to relieve the symptoms of poverty, but to cure it, and above all, prevent it.”

So Secretary Carson, I want to applaud you and this Administration, not only for your efforts in attempt to root out discrimination, to promote affordable housing, but very, very importantly to help able-bodied citizens achieve President Johnson’s goal and achieve lives of dignity and self-respect that comes from self-sufficiency, because we know that these fellow citizens are not liabilities, they are our nation’s assets. We want them to feel wanted and needed in society, and to realize their full potential of their God-given talents.

And when it comes to home affordability, we know there is no better home affordability program than a growing economy with a good job. Fortunately, under the policies of this Administration and this Congress, one million new jobs have been created. Unemployment is near a 50-year low. We see rising incomes, the best, and healthiest in a decade. Bonuses – millions of gotten thousand dollar bonuses or better. Some may view that as crumbs, others believe it is the core of a home down payment.

Now Secretary Carson, I want to speak briefly on the tenure of political debate in our society today. I do not know how you will be treated in this hearing. I know on previous occasions, members of this committee believe that member’s witnesses should “be treated fairly,” should “be shown curtesy,” should “be allowed to answer questions,” and “be shown respect.” We’ll allow the public to determine whether members who have demanded that in the past live up to their words today.

And I think we all know that words matter. I know that Steve Scalise believes this. And if you listened to him yesterday, you would know how passionately he does.  I’m not sure there is any other member of the House who has greater credibility on the subject. For those who daily promote diversity, I would call upon them to respect diversity of opinion, which is the single most important form of diversity in a free and democratic society.

I also lament, as I look back, that there was a time in America’s history where you could be denied service in a restaurant based on the color of your skin. Now, apparently, it’s the color of your voter registration card.

To all my colleagues, particularly those who disagree with my political views, I don’t own a restaurant. But if I owned a restaurant in Dallas, I want you to know that you’d be welcome there and I’d be proud to be seen with you. If you come to Dallas, I’d be glad to take you to one. You can pick it: Tex-Mex or barbeque, take your pick. And as we eat, please know I would not yield you the moral high ground, I would not lessen my passion for individual liberty and economic opportunity, but I would listen carefully to your views and I would seek common ground with you.

And should my supporters be in that restaurant, the only thing I would call on them to do would be to show you respect and to surround you with Texas friendly hospitality.

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