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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 4th, 2013
05:58 PM ET

Rep. Hensarling defends GOP shutdown strategy, and 'pants on fire' rating

The last time the U.S. faced a debt ceiling deadline was back in 2011. Even though Congress reached an agreement in time, the eleventh hour decision had a lasting impact on the economy. According to the Treasury Department the stock market fell 17%, household wealth declined by more than $2 trillion, and retirement accounts took a major hit, falling $800 billion.

Now, not only is another debt ceiling debate around the corner, the government shutdown remains ongoing.

"It is absolutely inexcusable for the United States to ever default on sovereign debt," said Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the financial services committee.

Hensarling said the House has passed a bill that "would ensure that the United States of America could never default on its debt, that bonds, federal bonds, we would always pay interest and principal. We have already passed it in the House. All we need is for Harry Reid to take it up and for the president to sign it."

But Hensarling said the president has already issued a veto threat.

So why not raise the debt ceiling?

"Here's the deal. The Constitution says it is Congress that has the power of the purse. And what House Republicans feel is, it's not the power of the purse. The president wants us to have the power of the rubber stamp," said Hensarling.

The current problem facing the U.S. government is the ongoing government shutdown. House Republicans are now setting a precedent with its strategy of tying the defunding of Obamacare to government spending, the core dispute that has triggered the shutdown.

But what if the situation were reversed? If Democrats controlled the House, Republicans controlled the Senate and the White House, and Democrats threatened to not fund the government, or raise the debt ceiling, unless Republicans agreed to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1% – would that be a fair tactic?

"What I would hope is they would sit down and negotiate in good faith, which is what we have offered to do," said Hensarling.

But House Republicans are trying to take away the president's signature legislation, and they are doing it with the government shutdown – and potentially with the debt ceiling – because they do not have enough votes in the Senate to repeal the law.

"We have already offered continuing resolutions to keep the government open that ... probably funds 98-99% of what the administration has asked for," said Hensarling.

"The Democrats worked for probably two generations to get their health care bill and Republicans are just supposed to shut up after three years? I don't think so," added the Texas congressman.

For more of our feisty interview with Congressman Jeb Hensarling, including his response to Politifact saying his special exemption claims on Obamacare were untrue, rating them "Pants on Fire," watch the video above.

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