Rep. Dan Crenshaw is a Republican who represents Texas’ 2nd Congressional District. In this episode, Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL, talks about the divisions in Congress, the soaring federal deficit, military spending, and why what gives him hope is that “it’s really hard to screw up America. People have been trying, lots of idiots have been trying, for 250 years, but we have a remarkably stable constitution.” (Recorded December 12, 2023.)
0:00 - Robert Bryce
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Power Hungry Podcast. I'm Robert Bryce. On this podcast, we talk about energy, power, innovation, and politics. And I'm pleased to welcome, I'm sure we'll touch on all of those, pleased to welcome Representative Dan Crenshaw. He represents Texas, the Texas 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. Congress. Representative, welcome to the Power Hungry Podcast.
0:12 - Robert Bryce
I warned you guess introduce themselves on this podcast so imagine you've arrived somewhere at a dinner party or something you don't know anyone there and you have about a minute to explain who you are please tell us who you are.
0:25 - Dan Crenshaw
Well, yeah, I represent the second district of Texas Congressional District. So I'm a member of the House of Representatives. This is my third term on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which is probably how I ended up on your podcast. I was also a Navy SEAL for 10 years. I'm not sure how often you talk about Navy SEALs on your podcast, but hey, we can talk about both.
0:47 - Robert Bryce
Okay. You're also on the Intelligence Committee, if I've done my homework correctly. Is that right?
0:52 - Dan Crenshaw
You have, you have, yes. That's recently as of this term. So it makes my life a lot busier, but a lot more fulfilling too. It's a great committee.
1:01 - Robert Bryce
Well, there's an enormous amount going on in the world. So let's jump right to it. But I want to I want to get to. I want to talk about international issues in a minute. But one thing, I was in a conference. I speak at a lot of conferences. I was in Des Moines last week. And I was asking some of these presenters that are futurists and kind of international relations guys. I said, what worries you about the US? And they said, the national debt. And they also said, the inability of Congress to do anything about it.
1:25 - Robert Bryce
We have a lot of challenges in America. And we could go spend a lot of time on this. I'm looking at this from the outside, I'm concerned about a lot of things in America, but one of them I'm concerned about that Congress doesn't seem to be too interested in is the issue of the debt. Am I reading this correctly? Is it a high priority? It sure doesn't seem to be.
1:44 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, yes and no. It's talked about plenty. People will grandstand about their annual budget plenty because it's easy. People like to do easy things up here that give you the impression that they're doing something hard or difficult. But the other truth that people don't wanna hear is that it's not just Congress, it's the entire American public that has no interest in fixing the debt because fixing the debt would mean fixing entitlement programs, which would mean the things you like because of the checks that come into your bank account.
2:17 - Dan Crenshaw
So that's social security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the debt. Those are mandatory spending programs. And politicians are afraid to talk about those in a serious way because a huge amount of your voter base, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, is people over 65. 70% of federal spending are those programs, those programs. I once heard somebody podcasting, it was this comedian named Dave Smith. And he's made this comment that, you know, we spent $6 trillion. So it's no wonder that there's so many rich people in the, in Washington, DC area.
2:56 - Dan Crenshaw
So there's more millionaires up here than, than, than anywhere else in the world. I don't know if that's true or not, but the next part certainly isn't true, which was that that $6 trillion just goes to federal workers. I think could be further from the truth. The vast majority of that money goes straight back to the American people, generally people over 65. That is a massive, massive amount of money. And so when you start trying to chop stuff off here and there, let's look at the rest of the 30%.
3:22 - Dan Crenshaw
That's discretionary spending. So that just means discretionary just means it's the stuff we spend every year. It's the stuff we actually appropriate every year. The bite that you always see about the budget, that's what we're actually talking about, just that 30%. Now that funds the Department of Defense, it funds the intelligence communities, it funds the Department of Energy, it funds every single, but that's where all the federal,
3:43 - Dan Crenshaw
When we're talking about paying federal workers, that's what that's actually happening. And 15% of that is really defense related, and we're never going to cut that, nor should we. And in fact, that will slowly increase. And so that leaves you 15% of the budget. And you say, okay, we'll cut that all out. Okay, well just all of that, that's quite a bit of government business. And so the reality is you're talking about small percentage points of even that. And so you're really not being serious most of the time if we're talking about the discretionary spending part and not talking about the entitlement spending part.
4:20 - Dan Crenshaw
Now, does anybody take it seriously up here? Yes, there's those of us who try. And they, I think in the budget committee recently voted on what's called, what's going to be a debt commission, which was the idea being that it's sort of a third party entity that studies the problem and tells us what we already know about the hard decisions that need to be made. But, you know, the problem is, we can, all Republicans in theory could unite and come out and say that these hard decisions need to be made about Medicare and social security.
4:50 - Dan Crenshaw
They're not as hard as you think they are, but they're, but they're not, but they're gonna, but they're easy to twist. And that's exactly what happens. Democrats say you want to throw granny off a cliff. Trump says you want to throw granny off a cliff even. I mean, that's right. So you really got it coming from both sides. That's the real problem.
5:08 - Robert Bryce
So is that the problem that there's no political payoff for people who want to be brave and talk about that 70% of 6.1 trillion, right? That that's the that's the catch, right? So let's.
5:21 - Robert Bryce
So it is getting some attention that you're saying, but it's just not the kind of attention that it deserves, given the increasing amount of money we're having to spend just to service the debt, right? It's going to be a trillion dollars or more this year, over the next 12 months. That's more than we're spending on defense. Is that correct?
5:39 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, that is correct. Interest rates are high, and that's, of course, what's happening. It's crazy. Is it a national security threat? We don't know when it will be a national security threat, because we don't know when people will stop buying our bots. That's the moment where it becomes scary. And that's different for every country. Every country entered the debt crisis in a different way. Ours is, we can kick that can down the road much, much further because the U.S. Dollar is the U.S.
6:04 - Dan Crenshaw
Dollar. It is the base currency of the world.
6:06 - Dan Crenshaw
So that's allowed us to overextend ourselves a bit. But But there is, but there's, it's worth mitigating that risk, to say the least. You've got to have a sustainable debt trajectory.
6:17 - Robert Bryce
Yeah, it's something that concerns me and something that I, you know, as I'm an old guy, right? I'm 63. Well, what does this mean for the next 10 years? What makes sense in terms of putting dollars, right? You know, that I can count on that won't just evaporate or be inflated away or whatever. So it's a big concern, but it's also will there be any social security there left for me when I finally do decide to take it? So let's talk, you're on the Energy Committee, let's talk about that for a minute.
6:42 - Robert Bryce
We've just seen the end of the COP28 meeting in Dubai with no discernible real progress there,
6:49 - Robert Bryce
From what I can tell. I wrote a substack today on the fact that coal demand continues to grow apace, 200,000 megawatts of capacity now under construction globally. I've watched the Biden administration. I'm not a partisan. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican. I'm disgusted and I'm very disgusted. But this administration seems to me when it comes to energy as really ideological in a way that I have not seen other administrations. How do you view the Biden administration's policies?
7:17 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, they're dangerous. I look at my own conservative base and look what everybody's concerned about, and everybody's mostly concerned about the lightning rod issues of the day, FBI, this or that. And I don't think the EPA is the dangerous one here. The EPA is constantly coming out with new regulatory proposals that would really end your way of life, whether it ends use of certain plastics that are very commonly used in everyday life, everything you do, and over-regulate and eventually get rid of something like hydrofluoric acid refineries, which is like half of refineries.
7:58 - Dan Crenshaw
I mean, just stuff like that that goes under the radar. It sounds really technical. People don't realize that there's the lease sales, of course. I mean, when you're talking about federal leasing of land for oil drilling and exploration, September, Biden released a five-year lease plan that included only three leases in the next five years. It's the lowest in history. They're always adding additional environmental restrictions, delaying these lease sales. It's constant.
8:28 - Dan Crenshaw
Canceling Alaska leases, another one. EPA methane rule, which was finalized this month. I mean, all of this stuff sounds good to anybody who's like, oh, I mean, we can do that, right? Because they assume that this stuff has been thought through very well. But you talk to the industry and that's not always true. Some of these regulatory proposals, they push out there knowing that industry is not there yet. I mean, basically a new, another proposal on, I forget the exact, the clean power plant rule.
9:07 - Dan Crenshaw
That would effectively force any coal and gas plants that exist right now to use some kind of carbon capture system in its totality, which-. That doesn't exist yet.
9:17 - Robert Bryce
That doesn't exist. Hydrogen that doesn't exist, yeah.
9:21 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, it's not there yet. It could get there eventually, but you got to let the market get there. And this almost assures that we'll never get there because it assures that they would close and then there would be no point in innovating that particular technology. So they have a really bad relationship with the private sector, to say the least.
9:43 - Robert Bryce
And you're talking. About. The E,
9:44 - Dan Crenshaw
And A Bad,
9:44 - Robert Bryce
You're talking about the agency, the EPA.
9:46 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, the administration, the EPA, that general religious cult that worships the gods of only wind power and solar power. And then writes down their you know, their beliefs into regulatory policy. So it's, this stuff has a way of really sneaking into your actual standard of life. And that's scary. And it doesn't happen overnight, but it eats away at you the next thing you know, you're Germany. So that that's not where we want to be.
10:23 - Robert Bryce
That's not what we want to be. Right. But that is part of the but that isn't one of the that's key problem there is this is the administrative state making this these these proposals. And from where I sit, it seems like that the danger and I speak to a lot of cooperatives, a lot of public power entities, and it's the uncertainty that's hurt that is equally hurtful to them. It's not the regulations. Yeah, they're dangerous. But it creates uncertainty about where they do make their investments, which is also a problem.
10:48 - Robert Bryce
Who do you hear from on this when you're looking at these EPA rules or having hearings on it? Who contacts you? Who are the most vocal opponents?
10:59 - Dan Crenshaw
Everybody from your chemical sector to your oil and gas industry, they don't need to contact us all that much because they know that we're going to fight for it. But yeah, it's your usual cast of characters. This affects everyone, but it affects industries who don't even know they're being affected because every industry needs some form of energy and needs that energy to be affordable. Almost everybody uses some form of plastic, which is a petroleum-based product. All of it you know, comes from this sector eventually.
11:28 - Dan Crenshaw
And this is something that needs to be explained to the American people more and more often that, look, you could go protest while you're wearing your North Face jacket, but your North Face jacket came from the dinosaurs, okay? It came from a petroleum-based product. Your synthetic material is, it is that, you know, and you're not gonna get around that fact. And that's okay. And also, that's okay. There's nothing really wrong with this. This isn't destroying the world. And and that.
11:59 - Dan Crenshaw
So, you know, a lot of like, like a lot of issues, activists get carried away and The first step is doomsdayism. And look, the right does it too. This isn't just the environmental radical left. That just happens to be our subject matter right now. But there's always a tendency to overstate a problem. And now in the climate change debate, that overstatement has gotten really, really intense. Um I do think and now now the good news is it's my sense I'm curious if you agree with this my sense over the last few years because of guys like you because of you know jordan lomberg michael schellenberg because of all this like sort of uh new group of journalists and influencers and that have that I think have just a larger voice in this subject um steve coonan another one I I think that alarmism narrative has been beaten back back to a somewhat more normal narrative that we can actually debate with.
12:57 - Dan Crenshaw
Would you agree with that?
12:58 - Robert Bryce
I think we're getting there, Representative. I think it's happening slowly. I think there is a growing realization that we have to avoid being Europe, right, and particularly avoid being Germany. But the counter indicator is Gavin Newsom and California and the efforts there to go full speed ahead on these same what I think are first and foremost are just ruinously regressive, right? You know, San Diego today has the residential electricity prices in San Diego are 47 cents a kilowatt hour, three times the national average.
13:30 - Robert Bryce
I mean, it's just, but the similar rates, not that high, but in Los Angeles, San Francisco, California is the policies that they're promulgating there are just incredibly expensive. They won't work. These visions that they won't work, but they can't work because they won't work rather because they can't work. The scale of what they're talking about just simply makes no sense. But let's back up for a minute, because you're on the Intelligence Committee and you were in the military.
13:57 - Robert Bryce
Let's talk about, in addition to the issues with the national debt and concerns about the U.S., one of the things that concerns me as I look around the world is so much uncertainty. And I've talked with, I was in London, the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, I think you were going to go to that, but I ran into some people there, very interesting people, and we were talking about Israel's war with Hamas. Could this turn into World War III?
14:21 - Dan Crenshaw
No, no, you know, the term World War III has been thrown around a lot ever since Russia invaded Ukraine and There was some worry, I think there was a reasonable worry about a, I don't know, I.
14:33 - Dan Crenshaw
Still don't know if you-.
14:34 - Robert Bryce
14:35 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, wider conflict. I just don't know if you would really call it a world war. But again, what did I say about alarmists? Right? Like that first step is always overstate the problem. If you have an opinion that's different from everyone else, overstate how crazy they are. And that's sort of what you're... Your non-interventionist slash isolationist wing of both parties seeks to do. You're going to get us into World War III. We're back to endless wars. I always chuckle at the people when they say, you know, when are you going to get us out of these wars, Dan?
15:07 - Dan Crenshaw
And I say, you? Us? Because I don't remember you there with me and my friends. You know, I remember me there. Let's not act like we have all been in this together. We have not. That is not the kind of war that we've been fighting for the last 20 years. So I don't want to hear it. But nonetheless, there was only a short period where I think there was a reasonable fear, just because of uncertainty, that we could get sucked into a war with Russia. They could view it as a serious escalation. That view wasn't valid a few months into 2022.
15:43 - Dan Crenshaw
It just wasn't. That just wasn't valid, just based on what we knew about Putin's actions, based on what he said he would do and then didn't do, you can assess that situation. And the same is true now with Israel and Hamas. If Iran and Hezbollah were going to make this a multi-front war, they would have done so by now. And they would have done so, by the way, if we had given an indication that we would not be there. Then it would turn into a larger war. And then this gets to a larger lesson, which is, People like to say, I'm for peace through strength.
16:17 - Dan Crenshaw
I'm not for war. I'm for peace through strength. People like to say that. That's kind of a funny thing to say because they definitely forget about the strength part.
16:27 - Dan Crenshaw
Because if you're going to put the strength part in there, it means you have to say and do somewhat uncomfortable things that might seem provocative to you if you're against all war. And that's just the reality of it. The strength part actually has to matter. The bully that you want to thwart, that you want to deter, and there's a good reason for wanting to deter them, can explain that in a second. But if you want to deter them, you have to make them understand that you're going to punch them in the face just a little bit, or maybe a lot of it, if they take an action you don't want them to take.
17:01 - Dan Crenshaw
That's deterrence. Same thing as life in a schoolyard and bullies running around. If they think they can steal your friend's lunch money, you're not going to do anything about it. They're going to steal your friend's lunch money. And you can wave your finger at them all you want. They're just going to keep going. And that's international politics. It always has been. Because that's human existence for thousands of years. The only thing that's been different about human existence is the last 70 years when America actually was the world police and created this really massive global economy that we have today where people can just trade with each other and actually expect that their goods will arrive on time.
17:40 - Dan Crenshaw
That's like a really rare thing. That's unique in human history.
17:44 - Robert Bryce
It's an interesting point you make, Dan, because that is a point that the Blue Water Navy in the U.S. Has changed the global commerce. And I interviewed what was his name? I had him on the podcast, a really well-written book about this very thing. You were in the Navy is, it's one of the questions I wanted to put to you about. Okay, so I want to come back to Russia, Ukraine and Israel, Hamas. But the other big issue, the other big geopolitical rival now is China and the South China Sea, and their efforts to control, dominate the South China Sea.
18:17 - Robert Bryce
How do you see the Navy? Because you've been in the Navy, you see that as a service. There's a lot of talk, and I think credibly so, that we're not investing enough in our Blue Water Navy. The military is now, because of a lot of the weaponry we've been giving to the Ukrainians, and I'm assuming we're going to be giving some to the Israelis as well, that we're not spending enough to make sure that we project that force that you were just talking about.
18:40 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, there's definitely worry here. Are we spending enough? I mean, I think most of us are pretty comfortable with the current spending on the military. I think there was. I think the real problem is that we're catching up from a period where you know, because of budget fights between, this is before I got to Congress, but budget fights in the Obama years, that there was, you know, sequestration and lower military budgets. And certainly because of the nature of the war, we were fighting less investments in that big conventional style military weaponry.
19:13 - Dan Crenshaw
And that has implications for huge supply chains and huge production lines to make certain kinds of exquisite missiles, certain kinds of ships. This stuff is hard to make. It's not easy. It's not World War II anymore. This is very complicated stuff and it requires a production, a supply chain that involves thousands of little tiny unique businesses. And if they don't get orders for a year or two years, that they're not going to do it anymore. And so everybody talks about the military industrial complex and how corrupt and big and powerful it is.
19:47 - Dan Crenshaw
And it's like, ah, it's kind of the opposite a little bit. Those production lines have decayed over the years. And What does that have to do with shipbuilding? Well, shipbuilding is hard and a very niche talent set. So there's that. I mean, we don't have a huge maritime industry. We even put like protectionist policies in place in order to keep somewhat of a maritime industry. So there's that. It's hard being on a ship. Morale can be low. Leadership is tough to find. That's more of a cultural problem and military leaders have to be cognizant of that.
20:26 - Dan Crenshaw
That's harder for us in Congress to just fix. So there's a number of things. Are we still by far and away the greatest Navy in the world? Yeah, like far and away. It's not even close when it comes to water capabilities and projection of force, which is the whole point.
20:43 - Robert Bryce
Well, so we'll back to the South China Sea. Let me ask you to handicap it then. We've got Russia, Ukraine, Hamas, Israel, China, potentially Taiwan, China, South China Sea. If you're going to force rank those, as you look around the world, which one of those concerns you more than another? Is that a fair way to think about that? Or do we have to consider them all equally with equal weight? Or is there some other way? How do you think about them?
21:11 - Dan Crenshaw
They're all a little bit related. Obviously the most concerning, the most, will have the most immediate impact on our economy and the world economy. I mean, a really, really, really drastic way is Taiwan because of the semiconductor business there. You can't just transfer that semiconductor business to the United States. I mean, we're already trying, even Taiwan is trying, right? They're even building plants in the United States. It doesn't happen overnight. There's an ecosystem there that is very unique and developed over time just because frankly, There's actually a story behind that that I, as I understand it, I mean, you know, it could be just a few people's telling of it, but like the main guy who started the Taiwan semiconductor industry was a Texas Instruments guy that didn't get promoted.
21:52 - Dan Crenshaw
And then, but had this vision and then went to Taiwan to do it. So yeah, that would be pretty consequential, but it's very closely related to mostly Ukraine, Russia. I wouldn't say it's closely related to Israel, but it's very closely related to Ukraine, Russia, because in the Ukraine war, you've got the West backing Ukraine against a larger invader, which is exactly what you'd be doing with Taiwan and China. And so China just has a stopwatch thinking to themselves, how long do they last?
22:25 - Dan Crenshaw
How long do they last? And that's what we can plan for. Now.
22:27 - Robert Bryce
22:28 - Dan Crenshaw
The other, there's other good news too, which is like, none of the weapon systems are really competing for each other here. You know, in Ukraine, it's artillery and sort of these long range rockets that we're giving them, tanks, things like that. That's not really what we need in Taiwan. What you need in Taiwan is a completely anti-maritime style defense. So, you know, it's anti-ship missiles, surface to air missiles, things like that. It's not a ton of competition there. In Israel.
22:59 - Dan Crenshaw
The Israelis can handle most of that. We have an aid package to Israel that we haven't even given them yet because we can't agree on how to do that from up here. But it's obviously not an emergency because they have ongoing operations there and it's a slow roll. It would have been more of an emergency if Iran and Hezbollah had decided to invade. And so I'm glad they didn't, but you can imagine a world where they would have. If America just had a non-interventionist policy, I guarantee you, Israel would probably be under complete threat of annihilation at this point with a multi-front war like that.
23:39 - Dan Crenshaw
23:40 - Robert Bryce
So, but just back to China briefly, does their effort to exert control in the South China Sea, does that concern you? Does that is that are we effectively countering that? Dan Yergin's latest book, The New Map, had a great chapter if you haven't read it, but his chapter on the Nine-Dash Map is reason enough to buy the book because he explains how that came around. And I thought it was just fascinating history that I didn't know. But how concerning is their activity in the South China Sea and are we effectively countering it?
24:11 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, I'll take a look at that book. It's definitely concerning. Are we doing enough to counter it? Probably not.
24:21 - Dan Crenshaw
Probably not. Why is it well, why is it concerning? Why do we care what they do in a sea that's far away from us? And it gets back to your way of life and global trade. If you enter a world, and I would say re-enter a world where bigger powers can pick on smaller powers or pick on cargo ships because they want their stuff, Well, then you've entered a very, very different world that you're not even used to, that you've never even thought about. And that's the pre-World War II era. That's how big wars start.
24:53 - Dan Crenshaw
And also, that's how you end the global economy. Because if it becomes normalized for China or Iran or just big state actors that are assholes to take stuff from cargo ships, what happens to maritime insurance? It skyrockets, then everything you want becomes basically unaffordable. Most of it will just stop being produced because they know you won't buy it for that price that it has to rise to. So, you know, your way of life changes dramatically. You can't overstate that fact.
25:22 - Dan Crenshaw
And it already would have happened multiple times without the U.S.
25:25 - Dan Crenshaw
25:26 - Robert Bryce
It's basically assuring that we don't have piracy on the high seas. Right. That this is I mean, is that as fundamental as you get it?
25:33 - Dan Crenshaw
It's as fundamental as you can get. But but piracy from a state piracy can happen, you know, and the maritime industry can is like, OK, But piracy from China or Iran? I mean, you know, recently we had the U.S. Navy intervene with Iranian ships against cargo ships. I mean, like this stuff is they already want to do this.
25:51 - Robert Bryce
The author I had on was Greg Easterbrook. He's the author of a book called The Blue Age. That was the one that I was referencing earlier. But it was a very good, very well-written book about the U.S. Navy and its importance. So how do you see China over the long term? This is another one of the things that to me is, as I look at the world, and I know you have more expertise in this than I in longer history and thinking about it, and you're on the intelligence committee, et cetera. But there's so many conflicting signals out of China.
26:19 - Robert Bryce
And Peter Zion is one globalist thinker that's very bearish on China. So the demographic problems in China are enormous. They're going to decline as a power over time because they don't have enough people. The one-child policy is going to be ruinous. How do you think about China? Xi was in the U.S. On this charm offensive and all the big multinational executives went to the $40,000 dinner to say hi and apparently it was worth it to many of them. How do you see Xi and how do you see China?
26:48 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, it's a mixed bag. Peter Zion's analysis is basically a demographics matter. Almost more than anything, demographics and geography matter. You know, that's the whole point of geopolitics, geopolitical analysis.
27:02 - Dan Crenshaw
So that's his thing. And their demographics are the worst in the world. Their birth rates have, they continue to drop massively, even though they've gotten rid of the one child policy. So you add the one child policy on top of just dropping birth rates because of their high, high urbanization. Yeah, I mean, you're screwed. Like, you know, the numbers, the numbers. I mean, you can map this out. And I think that's projected. They lose hundreds of millions of people from their population and the next, you know, by the end of the century.
27:36 - Dan Crenshaw
That's pretty crazy. That's twofold crazy. It just drastically reduces your workforce and creates an impossible situation where you have to take care of this massive elderly population. So it is hard to see how they how they properly get out of that and the way their economy works. Again, I've kind of, I listen to Peter too, so I'm not an expert on this. I'm repeating what I think he said on this. Their economy is different. Their economy is built around healthy young workers. In interesting, you know, because Japan has the same problem, but they've built a service economy that's just different and works around their situation.
28:18 - Dan Crenshaw
And so, you know, yeah, I would be bearish on ultimately on China investment. And there's other reasons too. They're over leveraged. They over finance things. They basically, the government can take a loan out of a bank and then say, ah, we don't owe it to you anymore. I mean, I don't see how long that financial structure can stay afloat. I don't know how long they can continue to just put an endless amount of money into crazy investments around the world. You're already seeing countries become more and more skeptical of it, these fake cheap infrastructure projects that fall apart, that put them in debt.
28:56 - Dan Crenshaw
Nobody there is less and less trust of the Chinese and the way they do business around the world. So look in the long, long term, absolutely bearish. But on the other hand, that can make them dangerous in the short term because, you know, they they might have some idea that this is coming and that makes them desperate. Right. And that maybe pushes them on, say, something like the Taiwan invasion. So that would be the part that worries me.
29:24 - Robert Bryce
So well then, I've talked about these geopolitical issues, but so when you, as a member of Congress, someone who's had experience in the international, traveling around the world, you've been in war, what concerns you, what rises to the top of your level of concern? We were not prepared for the pandemic. That was one thing. And we, I think, overreacted, but that's always, you know, you can always diagnose that in retrospect. The issues that as you look at your job now, what is the thing that concerns you the most?
30:00 - Dan Crenshaw
I don't know. Well, I'll just give you a few things. I mean, look,
30:02 - Robert Bryce
30:03 - Dan Crenshaw
It concerns one thing that concerns me is just the general movement towards isolationism, whether that comes from the left or the right. It more concerns me from the right because I'm on the right. It's a little surprising when I hear the so-called most conservative right-wingers sounded exactly like my Harvard professors on foreign policy, where everything America did is bad. The world is ruined because of American foreign policy. All we do, you know, it s all for money and blood and oil.
30:36 - Dan Crenshaw
And it's like, what are you? Come on. No nuance ever, just these black and white thought processes and no understanding of, I think, the themes I've talked about before, about taking a step back and thinking, what did the world look like before America was a leader on the world stage? Like, you need to, you need to understand the counterfactuals when you analyze foreign policy. So that scares me because that leads to a world where we actually don't lead and China fills that vacuum.
31:03 - Dan Crenshaw
And not just China, but like that little axis that they've built, you know, China, Iran, Russia.
31:09 - Robert Bryce
31:09 - Dan Crenshaw
31:10 - Robert Bryce
Is it. Right. To. Then. Give,
31:10 - Dan Crenshaw
You. Want. World. War.
31:11 - Robert Bryce
Given, given what you just said, that you support more aid for Ukraine.
31:15 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, I do. No, it's more complicated than that. I don't without border policy changes. You know, that's that's the deal we want to make with the White House. That's the deal I'm pushing the speaker to make. But do I support both? Yes. But even and so our message to the White House is, look, you're even losing guys like me. We are saying I can't I'm not going to support a clean package. You have to change the policy on the border. That's a reasonable request to make. It's germane to the issue.
31:42 - Dan Crenshaw
One border for one border. You know, it makes sense, but
31:45 - Robert Bryce
And so just to be clear, you're talking about U.S. Mexico border. Securing.
31:49 - Dan Crenshaw
Yes, sorry. Yeah. So.
31:50 - Robert Bryce
Just to be clear. So I've been and your text, you represent Texas. And I look at that, you know, we can't have unbridled immigration, we can't have just we, we can't let everyone in there. You just can't you can't do that. So you're saying there's got to be some horse trading here for them to stretch the flow of illegals coming into Texas and across the border, the southern border, with some agreement on on more aid for Ukraine. Are you making progress there?
32:18 - Dan Crenshaw
Well, you saw the few senators trying to make progress on that and it fell apart. I've been encouraging this. I don't have the power to make progress on that. So I've asked the speaker many, many times to empower a few of us to operate in good faith and make that deal straight with the White House. It has to be the House and the White House. The Senate has no incentive to make that deal. Schumer has no incentive to make that deal. Biden does because he needs to win reelection and open borders is a very unpopular issue for him.
32:49 - Robert Bryce
So why does Schumer not care? Explain that to me.
32:52 - Dan Crenshaw
Just his election. It does not affect him in the election. If you keep an open border, it doesn't affect Schumer. It does affect Biden.
33:03 - Robert Bryce
I see. Okay. So Ukraine then is that you're in favor of more? Yes, in favor of more aid, military aid, if you get you can get something in return for that is right, One of the other concerns that I heard expressed from when I was in Des Moines a couple days ago was.
33:18 - Dan Crenshaw
33:26 - Robert Bryce
The lack of cooperation among Democrats and Republicans. I know this is a newsflash, right? They don't want to cooperate. But is that problem intractable? Are you able to really make deals across the aisle? Or how much cooperation are you able to get on really important issues like these ones that you're talking about?
33:45 - Dan Crenshaw
Cooperation and deals happen all the time. They're not always sexy. We're going to vote on the NDAA this week. That's a, that's a deal. Okay. That's, that's a deal between Democrats and Republicans and half Republicans aren't going to vote for it and half Democrats aren't going to vote for it, but it's going to get a majority.
34:01 - Robert Bryce
National Defense Authorization Act. I'm just making sure you're.
34:04 - Robert Bryce
Throwing your acronyms around.
34:06 - Robert Bryce
34:06 - Dan Crenshaw
Sorry. The military spending bill every year. You know, it gets done. And we have some pretty amazing, I'm really happy with the certain provisions in there that I've gotten in there, spent years trying to get in there. And so that's on.
34:21 - Dan Crenshaw
That's on psychedelic therapy treatments for veterans and service members, clinical funding for clinical trials for the psychedelic therapies, just to be clear. So some amazing progress.
34:31 - Robert Bryce
Yeah, that's interesting use of psilocybin. And then for that, I've heard about this as a therapy.
34:37 - Dan Crenshaw
Psilocybin, MDMA, but the mother of all psychedelics of treatment here is Ibogaine. You can think of it like an ayahuasca journey. And the results from this stuff is just so far beyond belief. It has to be looked into. It has to be, we have to be doing FDA style clinical trials and really, really actually pushing for this. So the studies that have been done are just incredible. And the stories that have been told.
35:08 - Dan Crenshaw
Ptsd, addiction, trauma. I mean, you know, it's, I've never done it, so it's hard for me to describe, but it's described to me as a reset of the brain. And it works absolute, just amazing, amazing results for people. So, you know, that's a big win. And I guess the point of bringing that up was that, you know, that's like me and AOC and Matt Gaetz, like pushing for this in a press conference now. Who wrote the bill? Me. But there was,
35:38 - Robert Bryce
But that's a good example of bipartisanship.
35:40 - Dan Crenshaw
It's a coalition. Yeah. Yeah. It does happen, right? Depends on the issue. And look, people, the point of politics is to disagree without killing each other. That's why we have a civilization and politics, as we call it. It's different opinions expressed in the public sphere. And government is supposed to be a place where there's some kind of framework within which to disagree properly without killing each other. So it's okay. To have. That.
36:07 - Robert Bryce
36:08 - Dan Crenshaw
36:08 - Robert Bryce
That's, That's murder, murder. Murder is frowned upon. Who are you going to support for president?
36:15 - Dan Crenshaw
Assuming between who and who, I guess. I've stayed out of the Republican primary. I mean, For good reason. Don't see any point to that. It's hard to imagine Trump not winning that primary right now. You could imagine a world where Nikki Haley jumps ahead.
36:35 - Robert Bryce
But he's ahead by 30 some odd points in Iowa. I was just in Des Moines. I mean, he's very strong support. 30 points is an enormous lead. It's just hard to imagine.
36:44 - Dan Crenshaw
Hard to imagine. And so, you know, support Trump over Biden. Is what it is. Yeah. Yeah,
36:48 - Robert Bryce
Sure. Not a good choice. Not a good selection. I do a lot of public speaking, I get up there and I say, we have 330 million people in this country, we can only pick between these two guys. What do we get here? What is this? Why? We. Can't. Pick. Someone. Else. Please.
37:03 - Dan Crenshaw
Think. Something. Like 80% 80. %, 80 % of the public agrees with you. But yeah, 80% of the public didn't go out and vote in primaries.
37:11 - Robert Bryce
Well, that's true. Something like that 15%.
37:12 - Dan Crenshaw
That's the problem. 10%. Very small, very small. So, you know, people gotta, you don't like the way things are going, go out and vote. You know, people think their vote doesn't matter. And that becomes a catchy belief, but it does.
37:29 - Robert Bryce
Well, let's talk about that because you're running for reelection and the primaries next March. You raised $11 million in 2020, which is a staggering amount of money. It was one of the most expensive congressional races as I've read in recent history. That sounds absurd. How much are you going to have to raise for your race this year?
37:51 - Dan Crenshaw
Oh, not as much. You know, that was, uh, that was in the days of, uh, I had a different district, a much more purple district. Democrats actually taxed me a lot more. It's harder to raise that much money now when I've got a really, uh, red district, but, uh, you know, I still get that. We still have some con artists sort of guy running against me in the primary. So you don't have to raise some money, but, um, It's hard to say how much people ask, how much do you need? It's like, I don't know, just raise as much as you can.
38:21 - Dan Crenshaw
And then you win by as much as you can so that you are as strong as you can be. That's sort of the general political role.
38:29 - Robert Bryce
But it's still many,
38:30 - Robert Bryce
Many millions of dollars. It.
38:32 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
38:36 - Robert Bryce
And your district,
38:37 - Robert Bryce
By the way, just for people who are listening, and if you know, it's the second district, it's North Houston, the district is Kingwood Spring and the Woodlands, which is kind of a semicircle around Intercontinental Airport in North Houston. And that your district was just redrawn after you were elected in 2019. Is that right? You took office? I'm sorry and
38:59 - Dan Crenshaw
Well, I took office. I did two terms in that old district. And then this latest term is in the new district. So the new district is heavily Republican. So it's not really set.
39:11 - Dan Crenshaw
So no, it's not nearly as expensive because there's no real competition from Democrats.
39:16 - Robert Bryce
So if you win the primary, you're going to win in November. Got it?
39:22 - Dan Crenshaw
And there's a lot of districts like that. You know. And so this is why primaries matter so much. I mean, it gets to a point where you have very few swing seats now. You have less swing seats than you used to have. And if you care about who represents you, you need to be more involved in primaries.
39:36 - Robert Bryce
A quick station break. My guest is Representative Dan Crenshaw. You can find out more about him at Crenshaw dot house dot gov. He is also the host of Hold These Truths podcast. He's easy to find on the interweb. So what's the hardest part of your job? You I mean, I think from everything I read and we kind of idolize Navy SEALs, there's that's not an easy job. So hardest part of the job that you have now.
40:02 - Dan Crenshaw
I answer this and then I have to go. I had a call from 20 minutes ago.
40:07 - Dan Crenshaw
The hardest part of the job That's a good question. I get that question a lot, actually. I don't have a perfect answer for it.
40:18 - Robert Bryce
Well, then let me hit you with this one. What gives you hope? If you if you don't, if you don't have an answer for that one, what makes you... I know you've got a young child, you do, a three year old, a three month old daughter.
40:28 - Dan Crenshaw
Yeah, I can give, I can give an answer to both questions.
40:31 - Robert Bryce
40:31 - Dan Crenshaw
I'll give you my, I'll give you my hopeful spiel. I'm used to that one. Uh, and then I'll, but I, but I should answer your first one too. I mean, what's the hardest part of this interesting question. I, there's a number of things that this, this you live in two places. How about there's the practicality of it. You live in two places. I'd pay two more mortgages. Um, we have it. People are like, Congressman are so rich. They get so rich at office. It's literally the opposite. It's, um, You can look it up, we make 174,000 a year.
41:00 - Dan Crenshaw
And that's actually less than the federal worker maximum because only for congressmen do we actually put in the budget ever since 2007, there's no cost of living adjustments. So it's fine, you're surviving just fine. But if you want another career, if you want to move up in the world, this is not the place for you. And it's hard on families living. It's harder than the military was for me. The military was a preferable status, I think, to be honest. Yeah. It was just, I don't know. And maybe it's also because it was, I've always wanted to be a Zillow.
41:36 - Dan Crenshaw
I love the SEAL teams. I love the people. We love the community. It was, it was everything to us. I never wanted to leave the military. I had to because of this whole, I thing. And it's kind of a problem with trying to go into combat operations, being able to see. And so like there's practical issues like that. It's the hard part is I think, but the real hard part is constantly battling narratives that you just know aren't true. And that you know that other people like other politicians, news hosts know aren't true, but they get more clicks.
42:11 - Dan Crenshaw
And so this click chasing culture that we have has become extremely dangerous. Again,
42:17 - Dan Crenshaw
It kind of goes back to like, what am I most scared of from our country? It's like, it's click basing it, click it, it's click, you know, click chasing culture,
42:26 - Robert Bryce
The balkanization of the audience.
42:29 - Dan Crenshaw
And it's like, it does get into that isolationism stuff a little bit because like Ukraine became that it sort of became like, let's just, let's just hate Ukraine. Like it became like, it becomes like a bandwagon to jump on. And like, nobody even knows why they're doing it. It just becomes a thing. And it's a little weird. And you see, you see this stuff like that happen all the time. I mean, the radical environmentalism stuff, it's like that. And And so we spent a lot of our time, instead of having like serious higher level discussions and debates, honestly debating very basic truths.
42:59 - Dan Crenshaw
So that's a frustrating thing, but it also goes to show how important it is. Also makes me think, God, I can't leave because some of my colleagues are just, they're too willing to enable the false narratives. Why? Because it makes it more popular with that particular Twitter group at that particular moment. It's completely, it's just, and then so I have to stand in front and take the arrows and tell people the truth that they don't want to hear. And sometimes that truth is very simple.
43:24 - Dan Crenshaw
Like, no, the government is not stealing your social security money. That's not why it's going bankrupt. It's going bankrupt because there's more old people than there are workers than there used to be. That's it. It's a math problem. So, I mean, little stuff like that. People don't want to hear that. People want to hear that the government's spying on you and we're going to end the FBI. And so I have to be like, we're not going to end the FBI. No, they're not looking at your email.
43:46 - Dan Crenshaw
Yes, they are. I know you'd say that. That's exactly what somebody would say if they were looking at my email. And I'm like, OK. So it's, you've got to have those real basic truth discussions often. Now, what gives me hope? It's really hard to screw up America. People have been trying, lots of idiots have been trying for 250 years, but we have a-. We have a remarkably stable constitution.
44:07 - Robert Bryce
I like that.
44:10 - Dan Crenshaw
We have a remarkable amount of resources. We can last forever. Remarkable geography, oceans, et cetera. I mean, it's really hard to screw up America. Our demography is not like China's. It's not great, but it's, you know, because of immigration, we have a constant inflow of young people too. So it's really hard to screw up the long-term trajectory of America, even with all of our problems.
44:36 - Robert Bryce
Well, that's a good place to stop. My guest has been representative Dan Crenshaw. He represents the second congressional district here in Texas. You can find out more about him, of course, on the interweb. He's easy to find. Representative, a million thanks for your time. I know you're busy, great fun talking with you.
44:51 - Dan Crenshaw
Hey, always great to talk to you, Robert, and thanks for having me on. It's always good to have you on my podcast when I'm grilling you about energy policy. You're one of my go-to guys for energy policy,
45:00 - Dan Crenshaw
So I appreciate it.
45:01 - Robert Bryce
45:02 - Robert Bryce
And thanks to all of you out there in podcast land. Tune in for the next episode of the Power Hungry podcast. Until then, see ya.
45:09 - Dan Crenshaw
Thanks. All right. Thanks for having me.
45:13 - Robert Bryce
All right, my friend. Thanks a lot. It's great fun.