(Our continuing series of your representatives, at work.) When we interviewed Charlie Stenholm about the deficit for our 2008 election coverage, we asked him about losing his U.S. congressional seat after 13 terms. A deficit hawk who focused much of his career on fiscal discipline, Stenholm found himself in the crosshairs of then-majority leader Tom DeLay in the pursuit of party dominance.
“He got me,” Stenholm said with a grim smile.
DeLay famously engineered a dismantling of Stenholm’s district in 2003, and the fellow who unseated him was Lubbock city councilman and real estate developer Randy Neugebauer, who is in the news today for shouting “baby killer” at Rep. Bart Stupak during yesterday’s congressional debate on health care reform.
Neugebauer told reporters that he meant the bill was a “baby killer,” not Stupak. Regardless of views, pro or con, on the bill itself or on babies, shouting inflammatory statements on the House floor is a questionable use of congressional time.
Consider that: Stenholm introduced the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, which led to a national fiscal surplus; Neugebauer co-sponsored a bill in 2009 which would require future presidential candidates to provide a copy of their original birth certificate in reaction to claims that President Obama is not a natural-born citizen.
Stenholm worries now, to us and in congressional hearings, that the banking crisis of 2009 is leading to a security issue. “Our banker,” he says, “is the People’s Republic of China. And at some point, we’ve got to pay our banker.”
Neuegebauer’s contribution to the 2009 banking crisis: during a congressional hearing, with the CEOs of Citigroup, Bank of America and others before him, Neugebauer asked, “Why don’t we let the markets work these things out?”
DeLay has yet to weigh in on the change he wrought, but perhaps Neugebauer should re-read Stenholm's farewell note to his colleagues, which read, in part: "“To my fellow Democrats: Think about adopting a Republican. You don’t have to take them home. Just try being kind to one and see what happens. To my Republican friends: You may prefer a dog, but maybe, just maybe, working with a Democrat every now and then might help solve some serious problems like Social Security and health care.”