Archive for category Orrin Hatch
Republicans are feigning shock that Obama is proposing to implement the very same policies that Americans voted for in November. In the Weekly Republican Address, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, demagogues the so-called “fiscal cliff” and falsely claims that the Obama administration proposal to raise taxes on the rich (slightly, by allowing the Bush tax cuts on the top bracket to expire) is “a classic bait and switch.”
President Obama ran for re-election explicitly on the proposal he is advocating now. Much of President Obama’s current proposal appeared in his 20-page plan, released back in October. Polls indicate 60 percent of Americans support Obama’s tax plan.
Senator Hatch says the answer is to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, lower tax rates for the rich, and achieve “comprehensive tax reform,” whatever that is. Where is the Republican plan? We’re still waiting.
Oh, and by the way there is no such thing as a “death tax.” This term is the creation of Republican pollster Frank Luntz. It’s actually called the estate tax, and only applies to inherited wealth of more than $5 million (which is taxed at a 35 percent rate). Estates pass automatically without taxes to a spouse.
Paul Krugman predicts the next two years will be “one long Republican tantrum.” “Republicans are signaling that they don’t intend to make any specific proposals, they’re just going to yell and stamp their feet until Obama soothes them somehow.”
Steve Benen explains why the GOP has no proposal: “Under the rules Boehner and McConnell drew up last year, Republicans are supposed to tell the president, “Make us happy,” and Obama is supposed to keep offering conservative ideas in the hopes of guessing what they’ll find satisfactory.”
Shorter Orrin Hatch: please let me be a factually challenged tea bagger!
“Look, we all know that Planned Parenthood does 400,000 abortions a year or more, and yet that’s supported by the federal government. They claim that money isn’t, uh, they don’t use federal funds, well, about 95 percent of all they do, from what I understand, is abortion.”
Facts: your words have no relation to them.
Via Raw Story: Senator Orrin Hatch took to the floor yesterday to complain about President Obama’s citation of The Bible to justify progressive taxation.
Speaking to a group of mostly-conservative politicians at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, the president proved that conservatives do not have a monopoly on using religion to advocate for specific public policies.
“And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe at a time when folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income or young people with student loans or middle class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone,” Obama explained. “And I think to myself, if I am willing to give something up as someone who has been extraordinarily blessed, give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy — I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.”
“But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,” the president added.
That was from the Gospel of Luke (12:48). Whatever you believe, there’s a Biblical quote to go with it. A sputtering Hatch set the record straight:
“Just this morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, the president took what has always been a non-partisan opportunity for national unity and used it to promote his political agenda,” Hatch complained. “He suggested to the attendees that Jesus would have supported his latest tax-the-rich schemes. With due respect to the president, he ought to stick to public policy. I think most Americans would agree that the Gospels are concerned with weightier matters than effective tax rates.”
“In 2008, the president declared that his nomination was the world historical moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” Hatch recalled.
“Someone needs to remind the president that there was only one person who walked on water, and he did not occupy the Oval Office.”
Probably Senator Hatch would prefer Matthew 13:12:
Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
That fits Republican tax proposals like the one from presidential candidate Willard (“Mitt”) Romney. Raise taxes on the middle class to pay for more tax cuts for the rich, who are already enjoying the lowest tax rates in decades. And let’s not forget the corporations now wallowing in abundance while the middle class struggles with unemployment, flat wages and foreclosures. Corporate taxes are at a 40-year low of only 12.1 percent, but Republicans want to cut taxes for corporations too.
Another Republican running for President, Rick Santorum, recently encountered a “what would Jesus do” moment when asked about children whose parents can’t afford the exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs (up to $1 million a year). Santorum’s own daughter is ill with a genetic disorder, but he evinced no sympathy whatsoever for the plight of middle class kids.
Imagine how heartless our politicians might be if they weren’t such proud Christians!
Senator Orrin Hatch doesn’t want to extend the payroll tax cut, which reduced employees’ Social Security contributions from 6.2 percent of taxable wages and salaries to 4.2 percent. If Congress does not continue the payroll tax cut or replace it with a comparably sized temporary tax rebate, declining consumption and related economic activity will decrease employment by almost one million jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Failure to continue the payroll tax cut would reduce the average family’s disposable income by $920 next year, making another recession more likely. What is Senator Hatch’s explanation for wanting to raise taxes on the middle class? From the Salt Lake Tribune:
“I cannot support extending tax policies that were intended to be temporary and that have proven to be ineffective at creating jobs or stimulating economic growth,” said Hatch, R-Utah.
Interesting. Especially when you consider that the Bush Tax Cuts For The Rich, extended last year by the Democratic Congress, are (1) intended to be temporary and (2) have proven to be ineffective (over an entire decade) at creating jobs or stimulating economic growth. So let’s take Senator Hatch at his word. We have his pledge to vote against any attempt to extend the Bush-Obama Tax Cuts next year. If Congress doesn’t pass another set of tax cuts for the rich, that alone will go most of the way toward solving the long-term deficit problem and reducing the National Debt.
UPDATE: The GOP cannot explain why tax cuts for the rich do not create jobs.
As Center for American Progress Director of Tax and Budget Policy Michael Linden found, “in the past 60 years, job growth has actually been greater in years when the top income tax rate was much higher than it is now.” In fact, “if you ranked each year since 1950 by overall job growth, the top five years would all boast marginal tax rates at 70 percent or higher.” The GOP… simply has no explanation for these facts.
Have You Been To Jail for Justice? Peter Yarrow Spoke and Sang for Tim DeChristopher in Downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday
Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary came to Salt Lake City for Tim DeChristopher’s sentencing. We thank him for his support and wisdom.
Breaking out an image of the character Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island, Hatch said those with incomes of over $200,000 shouldn’t be lumped in with “Warren Buffet or Gilligan’s Island’s resident millionaire.”
And you know what, Senator Hatch is right. We need more income tax brackets to keep all the members of the top 2 percent of rich people from being lumped together. The millionaires and billionaires totally deserve their own marginal rates! It would be a mark of distinction, with bragging rights. If we restored progressivity to the income tax, then it would really mean something to be able to say you were in the top bracket. You know Thurston Howell III would hate being mistaken for somebody just scraping by on $200 K a year.
Of course, Senator Hatch wasn’t saying that. He was trying to explain his remarks from last week about how the poor and middle class have too much money.
GRAPH: As Wages Stagnate, The Typical American Family Is Working 26 Percent Longer Than In 1975
UPDATE: This just in from Senator Hatch:
You are invited to participate in the Salt Lake County Tele-Town Hall Meeting this evening, July 12, 2011 from 6 pm-7pm. You can do so by calling in at 1-888-886-6603 Ext.16885# and staying on the line to ask me a question. I will also be calling out to thousands of residents.
The meeting only lasts for one hour, so a limited number of questions may be asked on the air. However, if I cannot get to your question, I invite you to stay on the line after the meeting ends so that you can leave a message for me. I will make sure to respond to each message within the next few weeks. I appreciate your input and hope you will participate.
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” — William Faulkner
I was one of the few who watched C-SPAN coverage of the ceremony at Fort Sumter to mark the 150th anniversary of the first battle of the Civil War. There is a shadow over the sesquicentennial, because the political climate in America still contains many echoes of the issues we used to think were settled for all time by the worst war in U.S. history.
Via TPM we learn that our own Senator Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop want to revisit the question of states’ rights with a constitutional amendment. Here’s how the plan would work, from an op-ed Bishop wrote in Daily Caller:
[I]f two-thirds of the states collectively find a federal law or regulation abhorrent or misguided, they should have the power to repeal said law or regulation. The law would then be sent back to Washington for further consideration, at which time Congress may choose not to act again on the matter, or they may vote to override the states’ repeal and pass it in finality.
“American society itself is so diverse, so organic, so varying in its geography, culture, and demographics that we see the same fatal conceit when government tries to manage it from one central location,” Bishop wrote. “That is, unfortunately, what we have done over the past 80 years.”
Look, if two-thirds of the states are unhappy with the Union they can call a constitutional convention. This proposed amendment is absurd. But it underscores the way some people insist on re-fighting the Civil War.
UPDATE: A TPM commenter points out a major flaw:
Total Population of 16 most populous states = 209,696,126
Total Population of 34 least populous states = 98,450,632
– Numbers from 2010 census.
I think it’s pretty self-evident from those numbers that there are numerous myriad paths to a two-thirds majority of states that would constitute a minority of the population.
UPDATE: Rep. Rob Bishop (R-GA) told reporters at a press conference Thursday announcing the introduction of the so-called “Repeal Amendment” that the proposal isn’t nullification.
A majority of voters want someone other than Senator Orrin Hatch to represent Utah in the Senate. From Talking Points Memo:
In a new Utah Policy poll, 54% of Utah voters said it was time to send someone else to Washington in Hatch’s place, while only 31% said Hatch should be reelected to the seat he has held for 34 years. The poll also had dire news for Hatch’s chances of surviving a primary challenge. In a hypothetical match-up with two-term Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Hatch only managed a tie at 42% apiece.
Comb Ridge in southeastern Utah, one of the areas re-inventoried by the BLM in 1999 and found to have wilderness characteristics.
Senator Orrin Hatch said it was “an insult to the people of Utah” and “proof – if any more was required – of this administration’s radical environmentalist agenda that threatens to devastate our Western way of life.”
Governor Gary Herbert called the timing of the announcement “suspect” and said it smacks of “political posturing.”
Rep. Rob Bishop opined, “This is little more than an early Christmas present to the far left extremists who oppose the multiple use of our nation’s public lands… [the Obama administration has] deliberately slapped western communities in the face.”
“This is an unprecedented usurpation of Congress’ power,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz. “The potential negative consequences of today’s actions will be far-reaching in the West, where we actually rely on the land for energy development, recreation, and food production (grazing and ranching). I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee and in the Congressional Western Caucus to demand an accounting.”
Whew. “Radical environmentalists.” “Political posturing.” “Far-left extremists.” “Far-reaching” consequences that “threaten to devastate our way of life.” What happened?
Basically nothing. After almost two years of insistent lobbying from conservationists, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has issued an order that effectively reversed an illegal decision by the Bush administration back in 2003. Secretarial Order 3310 (PDF) provides direction to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “regarding its obligation to maintain wilderness resource inventories on a regular and continuing basis…”
From the Q & A document:
Since the controversial out-of-court settlement between then-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and the state of Utah and other parties (Norton-Leavitt Settlement) on wilderness in 2003, the BLM has been without comprehensive national guidance on how to inventory and manage lands with wilderness characteristics that are not congressionally designated as “Wilderness” (with a capital “W”) as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System or are not Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) that are pending before Congress for possible inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
There is a bit of history behind this. In 1995, during a hearing on the doomed Utah Public Lands Management Act (a Republican-sponsored BLM wilderness bill), former Rep. Jim Hansen challenged then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to produce evidence that Utah had anywhere near five million acres of wilderness-eligible BLM land, as conservation groups claimed. At the time, there were only 3.2 million acres of BLM wilderness study areas resulting from a flawed and biased 15-year congressionally-mandated wilderness review that concluded in 1991, during the George H. W. Bush administration.
Secretary Babbitt then ordered a BLM wilderness re-inventory in Utah, focusing on the 3.1 million acres eliminated at an early stage of the original review process, the 1980 Intensive Inventory. He could do this because the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) (PDF), the same law that provided for the wilderness review, also gave the Secretary of the Interior the authority to set aside public lands for protection through the BLM planning process.
Of course, the right-wing Republicans immediately freaked out, and the State of Utah went to court. In 1996, a district court judge issued an injunction to to stop the re-inventory of wilderness. Two years later, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Department of the Interior, affirming the Secretary’s authority under FLMPA.
The re-inventory concluded in 1999, and identified an additional 2.6 million acres as having wilderness characteristics according to the Wilderness Act (PDF).
Here’s a little bit of math: 3.2 + 2.6 = 5.8. Yes, it turns out that what conservationists had been saying all along was right. Utah had more than five million acres of BLM land eligible for designation as wilderness. In addition to the 3.2 million acres of wilderness study areas, the BLM now had another 2.6 million acres of inventory units that Secretary Babbitt ordered to be protected.
In April 2003, Interior Secretary Gale Norton made an out-of-court settlement with Utah Governor Mike Leavitt that rescinded former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s order protecting potential wilderness areas inventoried in the 1999 BLM re-inventory in exchange for dropping the lawsuit that had been filed in 1996. Conservation groups termed this the “No More Wilderness” policy. More legal wrangling ensued. Not to mention an unprecedented frenzy of oil and gas leasing, some of it in places that had been off-limits under Babbitt.
With Secretary Salazar’s order, we’re back at square one, with the BLM once again adhering to the policy established by Congress in FLPMA 34 years ago. It’s… wait for it… A GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF PUBLIC LANDS!
UPDATE: Salt Lake Tribune editorial: More wilderness?: Salazar’s small step forward