Supercommittee co-chair Hensarling has reputation as fiscal conservative

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Dallas Republican appointed Wednesday as co-chairman of the deficit reduction supercommittee, has earned a reputation as one of the most avowed fiscal conservatives in Congress.

Hensarling, the chairman of the House Republican Conference, said after his appointment that he's excited about the task.

"Times are tough, and American families have had to make many sacrifices over the last few years. While they didn't cause this debt crisis, they've learned how to make do by tightening their belts and living within their means," he said.

"It's time Washington did the same."

Hensarling, first elected to the House in 2002, was a long-time staffer to former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who also made his name as a budget cutter.

"With the recent stock market fluctuations and historically high unemployment, confidence in our economy is at a low and the American people are understandably frightened about their economic future," Hensarling said.

Hensarling's hard line concerns Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

"I think it's an unfortunate appointment," Jillson said. "Jeb Hensarling is a committed ideologue. He and Dave Camp are unlikely to be a part of the solution," Jillson said.

Camp, R-Mich., is chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and is also a member of the 18-member supercommittee.

North Texas Republicans praised the selection of Hensarling.

"Jeb is a real champion for fiscal responsibility, and I'm delighted that he's been selected by Speaker Boehner for the committee," said U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas. "He's a thoughtful and hardworking conservative leader."

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer