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.