Thursday, 17 February 2011

Senator Orrin Hatch Defends Big Government Record at CPAC

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Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is under scrutiny from fiscal conservatives following his address at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday, when he defended his big government, big spending voting record in the Senate, including his vote for the "bailout," the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), the unconstitutional, ill-fated, taxpayer-funded, government-led nationalization and bailout of the assets and equity of several failed financial institutions in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008.

Hatchs unpopular explanation of his vote for TARP resulted in heckling, hollering, and clamor from the CPAC audience, which soundly rejected any of his attempted justifications for the unconstitutional legislation, which has only served to increase the national deficit and to lead the further advance towards a corporatist society in which big government and big business become fused together, as the boundaries between the two are eroded through federal legislation, such as the bailout and stimulus.

While Hatch did express doubts on his vote in favor the legislation, considering the fact that TARP has resulted in a downward spiral towards further big-spending programs, such as the stimulus and cash-for-clunkers, he nonetheless defended his vote and even said that he would vote for TARP once again, if he had the opportunity to do so, when he was asked by an audience member about his vote for the bill, in a panel on a Balanced Budget Amendment, which Hatch supports, along with senators such as Rand Paul (Ky.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.). Hatch claimed that his vote was appropriate, given the circumstances facing the country at the time, and he said that he believes that the country would have devolved into a full-blown depression, had he not voted for TARP:

Under the circumstances at that time, we were going down, Hatch said, Let me tell you, we were going down. The secretary of the treasury said this is what had to be done. Not a lot of people are willing to say theyre sorry, but I am.

When he was heckled by audience members, Hatch smugly retorted, You werent sitting there having to make these decisions. His response indicates that he trusted the opinion of then-Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, that failing banks, such as Goldman Sachs, are too big to fail, a term coined by Congressman Stewart McKinney (R-Conn.), a Moderate Republican, and accepted as economic gospel truth by figures such as Paul Krugman. Hatch also stressed, however, that there were several elements of the legislation that he was opposed to, and he dismissed these as later insertions. Considering his record, however, his vote for TARP is not surprising, as it falls in line with his overall governmental ethos.

Hatch is generally considered an Establishment Republican, and has served in the Senate since 1977, known for his support of several unconstitutional and fiscally-reckless government programs. Aside from his support of TARP, Hatch has also supported big-government measures including the federal regulation of college football, even calling for federal hearings on the Bowl Championship Series, claiming that the tournaments are in violation of federal antitrust laws (he is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust), and that federal legislation is needed to regulate the college athletics industry, as well as a plethora of other bills indicative of his true ideology.

In 2004, Hatch introduced the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights (INDUCE) Act, which would nebulously outlaw any and all possible paraphernalia related to copyright infringement. Critics of the INDUCE Act say that the legislation would have granted unprecedented legal privilege to media companies, and under its draconian provisions, the internet and personal computers can be outlawed, violating the fundamental rights of the American people. He also supported further federal regulation of the internet when he introduced the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits (COICA) Act in 2010, which would amend the United States Code so that the US Department of Justice would have the authority to exercise judicial power over specific websites or domain names found to be guilty of infringing activities. The bill would have given the federal government the authority to seize specific domain names at will, and earned the fierce opposition of constitutional advocates.

Hatch is also a supporter of embryonic stem cell research, and was one of 58 senators to sign a letter addressed to former President George W. Bush, requesting that federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research be lifted, in spite of the numerous bioethical and economic arguments against the practice.

His big-government proclivities extend further. In one bizarre case, Hatch supported federal legislation that would mandate insurance companies to cover the costs of faith healing sessions, along with Senator John F. Kerry (D-Ma.). While it is unconstitutional and an unfair and unnecessary intrusion into the free market for government to mandate that insurance companies cover any treatments or services, it is especially ludicrous that insurance companies would be legally mandated to reimburse faith healers, who believe that they can effectively remedy physical maladies through prayer and other spiritual exercises. Likewise, he also sponsored legislation that would mandate a host of taxpayer-funded research programs on chronic pain by expanding the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and that would create a new federal entity, the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee.

Hatch also cosponsored the unconstitutional Childrens Health Care Quality Act, which would amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act by expanding the Social Security Administration to include taxpayer-funded programs to improve the quality, performance, and delivery of pediatric care, in conjunction with deceased Senator Edward Kennedy (Ma.); both of them also partnered to form the federal Childrens Health Insurance Program. In addition, he has a reputation for favoring pork barrel spending- in 2010, Hatch requested over $1.2 Billion in earmarks for the state of Utah, for over 256 pet projects, including $10 Million for a light rail project in Salt Lake City.

Hatch also has supported other unconstitutional spending bills, such as the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, which amends the National Housing Act to create a taxpayer-funded program within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the purpose of providing government assistance for those delinquent on their mortgages. The legislation also has the effect of instituting further government regulation over the mortgage industry, by empowering federal judges to exercise control over what debts mortgage companies can correct. Similarly, Hatch supported the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which also resulted in greater government control over banks and creditors by allowing federal judges to make decisions for creditors on debt collection and repayment. Hatchs career is therefore wrought with support for unconstitutional legislation which serves to increase government control over the free market and private enterprise.

Throughout his career, Hatch has also advocated a fairly liberal policy on immigration. In 2001 and in 2003, Hatch sponsored the DREAM Act, along with Republican Senators John McCain (Ariz.) and Sam Brownback (Kan.), which calls for illegal immigrant minors to be granted conditional permanent residency in the United States. For several years, Hatch sponsored the legislation, in spite of legitimate fears that the bill serves as a gateway into amnesty that encourages chain migration and further illegal immigration, not to mention the economic strain on the taxpayer, according to the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies, in an interview with National Public Radio:

The problem is the DREAM Act, as it exists now, is incomplete. It's just an amnesty. It legalizes these kids without dealing with the problems that an amnesty can create. And so there are two things the DREAM Act would need to make it complete. One, mandatory electronic verification of new hires, to turn off the magnet of jobs so that future parents don't put their kids in this situation by being tempted to come here illegally.

Due to his support for the DREAM Act, TARP, massive pork barrel spending, and federal entitlement programs, it comes as no surprise that many activists in the Tea Party movement are not supporting Hatch in his 2012 reelection bid. Polls suggest that Hatch may be particularly vulnerable to Tea Party electoral clout in his home state of Utah, where incumbent Senator Robert Bennett was soundly defeated at the Utah GOP Nominating Convention in June 2010 by Mike Lee, the Tea Party favorite, who ran on a platform opposed to Bennetts record of big-government programs, such as his co-sponsorship of federal legislation to mandate healthcare coverage along with Democrat Senator Ron Wyden (Ore.), as well as his vote for TARP.

As far back as May 2010, there have been reports that Hatch would become the next target of the Tea Party, as reported by Politico:

Roughly half of Utah voters would vote for someone other than Hatch if he were up for reelection this year, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released Tuesday and commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune.

In addition, Senator Lee announced that he does not intend to endorse Hatch in 2012, and with Tea Party favorite Rep. Jason Chaffetz intimating that he may consider a Senate run, Hatch has lost out on a vital source of electoral support, despite his attempts to placate Tea Partiers by providing a steady source of rhetoric, such as when he said that hed be willing to be the most hated man in this Godforsaken city at CPAC, for his alleged support of fiscal conservatism.

Nonetheless, Hatchs voting record and legislative history does not lie, and if trends continue, he will most likely face the same fate as Bennett, Congressman Mike Castle (Del.), former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, and other big-government Republicans who were defeated at the polls by those who are motivated by fiscal conservatism, constitutionalism, and limited government principles.

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