GOP lawmaker calls debt payments the 'red menace' fueling China's rise

House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) on Wednesday said the growing federal debt is the "red menace" of the 21st century, warning that it is posing both economic and security risks to the United States.

"In the 20th century, the red menace was communism," Hensarling said in Texas, according to a report in the Jacksonville Daily Progress. "The red menace for the 21st century is our public debt."

Keeping with his communism theme, Hensarling implied that interest payments the U.S. is making to China alone could pose a national security threat.

"The interest we pay to China on our debt, they can essentially afford to buy a [Joint] Strike Fighter every other day," he said, according to the Daily Progress. "Our greatest competitor in the world […] we are building their armed forces with the interest we pay them on the national debt."

Hensarling said President Obama did not put the U.S. on a path to bankruptcy, but blamed him for "pressing on the accelerator." He said last year's healthcare law would increase spending by $2.6 trillion, and would "help cause our debt to triple during this decade."

The House and Senate return next week with just two weeks to reach agreement on a fiscal 2011 spending plan, something that has eluded them so far this year. Some Democrats this week were warning that a full-year budget needs to be approved, but it remains unclear what fiscal 2011 budget could be approved in the Senate.

Hensarling isn't the first Republican to use the term "red menace" in discussing U.S. debt payments to China. 

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is mulling a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, described mounting national debt as the "new red menace" in a speech to conservative activists in February. 

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