Hensarling noted that the economy grew just 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011, the seventh quarter since the recession ended. Growth in the latest seven quarters has averaged about 2.8 percent, while growth in the seven quarters following the early 1980s recession averaged about 6.6 percent.

Conservatives have blamed this performance on record high levels of government spending, and Hensarling made similar arguments in his interview.

"By any historic standard, we ought to have roared back from this recession, and yet almost everybody I talk to at a town hall knows some family member, some friend, some neighbor who is out of work," he said.

Hensarling said rising gasoline prices are a major contributor to slow growth, and that high prices are due in large part to Obama's "war on carbon-based fuel." He said that while he hopes alternative energy lessens the need for petroleum in the future, the U.S. cannot simply hope this happens and abandon petroleum-based fuels in the meantime.

"Dreaming is not a strategy for the future," he said.