DAYTON - Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., told a Northern Nevada Development Authority luncheon Wednesday that government is to blame for the recession.
"This recession, I believe was caused by the government," he said. "This happens sometimes when the government tries to do something good - that sounds good."
He said the goal was to help people with lower incomes realize the American dream of home ownership. The problem, he said, is that Wall Street got involved and "did some very creative things."
"That created a huge demand for more mortgages and lenders so the banks just started creating them," he said. "That drove housing prices up and created the housing bubble."
"The problem with bubbles is they always burst," he told the audience of about 100 business leaders at the Dayton Valley Golf Course.
Ensign credited President Obama with "good motives - he wanted to turn things around." But he said the president's and Democrats' reasoning that, if the private sector isn't spending, government needs to, is wrong.
"We always hear if you cut taxes, you're going to increase the deficit," he said. "Well, not if you cut spending."
He warned the crowd that with the Democratic majority opposed to extending the Bush tax cuts, "everybody who pays taxes - your taxes are going up."
He said his solution would be to cut taxes and cut spending and "unleash the private sector."
"If you unleash the private sector, the economy will recover," Ensign said.
He told the group it can make Washington, D.C., change by holding elected officials accountable.
"If you don't hold us accountable, we'll do some real bad things in Washington, D.C.," he said.
Their leverage, he said: "Politicians like to be re-elected."
On health care, he said the bill contains "a huge incentive" for companies to drop employee insurance plans because, if they don't provide insurance, the fine is only $2,000.
"It's a lot cheaper to pay that fine than to pay for health coverage," he said.
Ensign said the same is true of what he termed the "unconstitutional" requirement that individuals buy insurance coverage where the fine is just $650.
He also told the audience a visit to the historic mint in Dayton gave him an idea for legislation that could create numerous jobs. He said the U.S. government has the power to license the right to use images and symbols used by the government.
"They can determine who can basically produce them," he said.
But, he said, he was told a lot of those items are being produced out of the country in places such as China. He said he will introduce a bill to require all goods produced for the government to be made in the United States.
"From what they were telling me at the mint, that could be 30,000 to 40,000 jobs, several hundred in Dayton," he said.