Senator Orrin Hatch talked with Meridian about the importance of this election, saying we stand at a critical crossroads.
Meridian: Many people are calling this the most important and most defining election in our lifetime. Do you agree?
Senator Hatch: There’s no question in my mind about that. We are at a crossroads. People are worried. They are scared. They want smarter and smaller government. They don’t want Washington to determine our future. They are sick and tired of the way things are running, and they want protection of all the hardworking taxpayers.
They need real jobs, real solutions and real results. They want us to get back to the way we were in building a society where hard work is rewarded and every American has the opportunity to succeed. The people I talk to believe that we need to stop Americans from becoming dependent on government instead of exercising their personal responsibility.
Many have talked about the 47% number that Mitt quoted as people who are dependent on government. He was talking behind the scenes in a private meeting. They have taken his statement out of context and misquoted him. All he meant was there are too many people riding in the wagon and not enough pulling it, and he wants to be able to get people out of the wagon into really good paying jobs.
Incidentally, he was wrong about the 47%. According to a non-profit group, the Joint Committee on Taxation, 51% of all households are dependent on government.
A good percentage of the people think that Mitt can do the job for this economy and get us back on our feet. I have no doubt he’s the only one who can do that.
It’s also important for Mormons because this is the only real chance for anybody of our faith to become president of United States. Mitt has come a long way, and I believe he’s going to win. People don’t realize what a long drudgery it is to run for President. He’s earned a lot of respect all over this country. Those of us who are LDS, other than my friend, Harry Reid, are all behind Mitt.
Meridian Magazine: What concerns you if President Obama is re-elected?
Senator Hatch: Our country is $16 trillion in very serious debt. You can count on it going to $20 trillion if President Obama is re-elected. His program does not cut back on spending. He plays the game of class warfare by saying that increasing the tax load on the rich can make the difference.
If you took 100% of every millionaire and billionaire’s income, it would be a little less than $900 billion. Keep in mind he’s spending well in excess of one trillion (about 1.3 trillion) a year.
By the way, his administration has been spending as much as 25% of the GDP. We can live with maybe 20% which would still put us in debt. That is a huge cost of government. By the way, Warren Buffet is a friend of mine. I go to breakfast with him once a year. But if we pass the Buffet rule, you might have enough money to run the federal government for four days. There’s no way that the wealthy can bail us out.
The upper 1% pays between 37% and 39% of all taxes. The upper 49% pay 100%. The bottom 51% of all households do not pay a penny of income tax.
In response to my question, Treasury Secretary Geithner admitted to that. Then he said they pay payroll taxes. That’s true because that’s social security. I asked, “Isn’t it true that 23 million people get refundable tax credits greater than they pay in payroll taxes?” He agreed.
Approximately 16 million people get refundable tax credits from the government that is more than they and their employer pay in payroll taxes. The key here is to do what Mitt Romney wants to do, and that’s to get this economy under control, get more people to work, try to get them higher wages so that they get out of the wagon pulled by the rest and help pull the wagon.
Nobody wants to tax the truly poor. But many people feel that not all of the people in the bottom 51% are truly poor. Therefore we have to find a way to get more people working, earning money, and paying their fair share into the economy so that we can grow the economy and pull us out of the difficulties.
I think the Democrats all know that, but they love playing class warfare-as though the millionaires are the answer to everything. A lot of millionaires are willing to pay more, except they want the government to cut back on spending and over regulation, and they want the money they pay in to pay off the national debt.
People are worried about hard working taxpayers who are carrying the load here.
They want real solutions and real results, not this phony politicking that is going on with this administration. Most people want a society where hard work is rewarded and each American has a chance to succeed. The problem right now is that people don’t feel that they have a chance to succeed.
We have an unemployment rate of 7.8% and if we count those who have given up looking for work, our underemployment rate is over 14%.”
What can Mormons do about this? I feel that we have an obligation to help this country know that we need to live within our means and put incentives into the system so that everybody wants to work and contribute.
Meridian Magazine: Isn’t government dependence one of the dangers of a democracy?
Senator Hatch: Lord Woodhouselee said,
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
“It is a pretty good statement and it’s one that worries me. We’re more than 200 years old. Some people should be receiving assistance from the government, those who are on social security, veterans, and the disabled. Others we want to help find real employment.
Meridian Magazine: What kind of incentives do people need so they are not so dependent on government?
Senator Hatch: We can 1) cut back on the size of government. 2) reduce the tax and over regulatory burdens upon our people. 3) work to grow the economy and spread the tax burden by growing good jobs so more can help build our economy.
That means good educational processes, good trade schools, and good community schools.It means less bureaucracy. It means cutting back on spending. It means quit over-regulating us to death which is the liberal answer to everything. That doesn’t mean you don’t need good regulations, but look at the tax code. It is so complicated that nobody understands how to fill out a return. You can’t get two people who fill it out the same way.
Student loans give opportunities to succeed, but some people get themselves deeply in debt on student loans with no chance of paying them back, while they are frivolously playing around with education and not getting serious about it.
Student loans that are not well thought through are driving up the cost of education throughout this country. The fact is that we should talk about eligibility and teach our young people about living within their means. I myself worked as a janitor at BYU, and when I got back from my mission and was back in school, I worked at a retail store selling diamonds.
We should expand H1B immigration programs. All these bright students come to America, go to our top schools, and then leave when they graduate. We ought to give them a special visa so that they can stay in the country and continue on to earn citizenship. Some of the tremendous competition from China and India are through people, educated here, who would have stayed here if they could.
Meridian: What concerns you about President Obama’s tax policies?
Senator Hatch: President Reagan did marginal tax rate deductions, 25% over three years and the economy just soared. He was one of the more popular presidents, and though the liberal historians hate to say it, he was one of the top ten presidents in history, some say among the top five.
Senator Joseph Lieberman and I worked together on cutting tax on capital gains, and we not only did not lose revenues, we tripled them. Now this President is talking about raising taxes on capital gains.
The President would also get rid of the 2001 and 2003 tax reductions from the Bush years for those earning over $200,000 a year. If he does that, 940,000 small businesses would be hit that are pass-through companies where they are taxed at the highest rates. That’s where about 70% of all good jobs are created. It is not only stupid; it is just political. They get by with these inappropriate arguments because a lot of people don’t take time to understand. They say let’s tax the rich and that will solve all the problems. You could tax them at 95% and you couldn’t get enough to sop up the spending in this administration.
We are going to have to elevate the economy and that’s why Mitt Romney is so important. He does understand how important it is not to have the federal government oppressing you every step of the way with rules and regulations.
If we get the economy on track, we should be able to get revenues that are about 18% of GDP. We are currently at 16%. You have to pare government spending to 18% to 20%. We ought to whittle that down too, because every time taxes go up, people’s incentive goes down.
Obamacare says if you are a small business with over 50 employees, you have to provide health insurance for them. Guess how many businesses out there are not going to hire beyond 50 because they would be hit by the costs of Obamacare. They’ll stay at 45 or 48 employees, but not go beyond there.
600 economists support Mitt Romney’s plan. Among that group I think there are 6 Nobel laureates, 8 economists from Harvard, and 8 from Stanford who support Mitt Romney’s approach as opposed to Obama.
Women are in despair about how to feed and clothe their families. Women are a lot more concerned about how to feed their families, live within their means, afford the basic necessities of life than anything else.
Then there are a considerable number of women who are treated unfairly by men and are the heads of households. 50% of children in this country are born out of wedlock. 70% of African-Americans are born out of wedlock. We have the rules but people aren’t living up to the rules.
That’s why the Church is so important, whether it is ours, Catholic, Evangelical or others, it is important because we are teaching that families are sacred. We have to live up to supporting our kids, being decent to our wives and husbands.
Meridian Magazine: Why does the media, except for Fox News, largely ignore the Obama administration’s recent debacle over the killing of the ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya? Obama seems to be getting away with duplicity.
Senator Hatch: About 95% of the media is in his hip pocket. They don’t even apologize about it; they admit it. That’s what we as Republicans have had to put up with. I feel that they have treated me fairly over the years, but the media is very much in the tank with Obama.
With regard to Benghazi, within 24- hours of that attack, the Washington Post, CNN and The New York Times knew it was a terrorist attack. For two weeks, the President told us the tragedy was over a stupid film that was never even mentioned by the terrorists.
He sent UN ambassador Susan Rice out for television appearances to say it was a spontaneous reaction to the film. Finally Hilary Clinton came out and said I take the blame for it. The major media in this country knew within 24 hours, and I believe that the president had to know within a very short time that this was a terrorist attack caused by al Qaeda affiliates. Now we know that the embassy had been calling for military help and they couldn’t get that.
I don’t want to find fault. These are tough situations, but why did they carry on like this for two solid weeks if they didn’t expect their friends in the media to cover up for them?
You are talking about a real live ambassador of the United States, who had called for more help before this had happened. These are serious problems.
Meridian Magazine: Is Obama competent to be President?
Senator Hatch: Let’s face it. He’s a charming man. I think he’s a nice man. He’s certainly a good spokesman for his party. What can you point to in the life of a community organizer that justifies his being president of the US. He was a state senator, a U.S. senator, yes, but you had better have an awful lot of knowledge before you get to the Presidency. He’s a nice man who’s not up to the job.
It’s starting to dawn on the American people that the Democrats are trying to justify his failure.
This is said by somebody who actually likes him. I think that is part of my faith to try to find the good in people rather than the things that are wrong.
Meridian Magazine: It seems like we don’t know as much about Obama’s background as we’d like to for someone who has promised transparency.
Senator Hatch: Why do you think Donald Trump just offered $5 million dollars for him to release his college and passport records? It is because we know so little of the man. He just wants the public to have his records from Occidental, Columbia and Harvard. Why wouldn’t he do that?
Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary 2016: Obama’s America gives one view of his background, but it raises the larger issue that there are so many unanswered questions that this man won’t answer. Even I am concerned about this.
The President and his team have spent the last six months painting Mitt Romney as somebody he’s not. I think Mitt has gathered momentum since the debates because people have had a chance to see who he is and see that all those character attacks were wrong. He’s a good guy; he’s been successful wherever he’s gone; he’s honest. He’s a good human being and so are his wife and his boys. I guess Obama thinks he can get away with it.
Meridian Magazine: What’s your analysis on the outcome of the presidential race?
Senator Hatch: This is one of those races where Mitt could win the popular vote, but not the Electoral College, but I think he will win both.
People need to understand that the Founding Fathers were very wise because they wanted to make sure every state would be important and in play. If the Electoral College were abolished only the most populated states would be in play such as the 12 most populated states. The major media would have even greater influence by concentrating only on those larger states. In the current race, both sides must campaign in every state and are currently fighting over even one undecided electoral vote in Maine. This is something most people don’t understand we’ll, but the Founding Fathers got it right.
I think Mitt is going to win in Ohio and Virginia and a number of states that people thought were a given for Obama.
Meridian Magazine: What about the Latter-day Saints in Congress?
Senator Hatch: We have a number of very strong LDS people in the Congress who are fighting their guts out for this country.
Two Latter-day Saints are running for the U.S. Senate and both are having a rough time in heavily LDS states. Dean Heller has served as Nevada’s Secretary of State and in the Nevada state assembly. Jeff Flake is a U.S. Congressman from Arizona. Both are really fine men.
Meridian Magazine: Any last thoughts?
Senator Hatch: It’s incredibly important for all Americans to get out and vote regardless of who they vote for. Our federal republic is what makes America the greatest country in the world. The freedom we have and the liberties we cherish are what our nation’s veterans have and are fighting for. They are what are country was built upon, and they are what are keeping us going during our darkest of days.
It’s important for everyone to exercise their right to vote and have a say in the direction our country is headed in. We, as Mormons, are counseled to do so and above all people have an obligation to do so, regardless of party affiliation.