Hatch Blasts Senate Democrats’ Failure to Avert Looming Fiscal Cliff
In Speech Utah Senator Says, “Rather than stop the country from going over the fiscal cliff and preventing the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief, they are prepared to Thelma and Louise the American economy right over the cliff. This is an astonishing admission.”
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, today blasted Senate Democrats for failing to act to avert the looming fiscal cliff and allow taxes to go up on virtually every American taxpayer on January 1, 2013.
“Rather than stop the country from going over the fiscal cliff and preventing the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief, they are prepared to Thelma and Louise the American economy right over the cliff. This is an astonishing admission,” said Hatch in a speech on the Senate floor. “If we do not address the fiscal cliff, taxes will go up by over $4.5 trillion over the next 10 years. But instead of dealing with it, by extending the existing tax rates, the President and his Senate allies are playing chicken with the economic recovery. They are playing games not only with the economy, but they are playing games with people’s livelihoods. This is a disgrace.”
This week, the Senate will debate the DISCLOSE Act, which is expected to fail in the Senate.
Hatch said, “I oppose this legislation on policy grounds. But just as important, I oppose the majority’s ongoing effort to convert the United States Senate into a vessel for President Obama’s political campaign. The majority knows that this legislation will not pass in the Senate, or at least they should know given the fact that this chamber has already rejected this legislation. What’s worse is that it appears that the majority doesn’t even want this legislation to pass. What they want — and what has become too common in the Senate these days — is another dog and pony show, another opportunity to demonize the business community in service of the President’s class warfare campaign theme.”
Below are Hatch’s full remarks delivered on the Senate floor this afternoon:
Mr. President, today the Senate is taking more time to debate a bill that will have little consequence for the American people. All people, that is, but those who work in the White House and on President Obama’s reelection campaign.
We are in our 41st straight month with unemployment above 8 percent, but the Senate is, again, taking up precious time — time that could be devoted toward creating jobs — to address legislation that is instead designed to create votes for the President’s flagging reelection efforts.
I would be outraged at this partisan display if it were not so pathetic. But in the end, I think the American people will have outrage to spare.
Mr. President, it is important for the American people to know what the Senate Democratic leadership considers pressing business. Today, the world’s greatest deliberative body takes up one of the most deliberately political pieces of legislation that you will ever see.
Meanwhile, my friends on the other side of the aisle are now saying that when faced with the choice of addressing the fiscal cliff we are facing at the end of the year or raising taxes on small businesses, they will take their stand with tax hikes.
This is really remarkable. Rather than stop the country from going over the fiscal cliff and preventing the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief, they are prepared to Thelma and Louise the American economy right over the cliff.
This is an astonishing admission. But it is not surprising. We hear from the other side about Republican orthodoxy on tax relief. But we rarely hear them come clean about their own economic orthodoxy. Occasionally, it emerges for all to see.
On Friday, in Virginia, the President let his real views on economic matters slip. Here are his views on business owners.
“Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Well, the President is right that somebody did make that happen. The people that made that happen are called taxpayers. The President seems to think that the Department of Transportation just made those roads and bridges happen.
But that isn’t how it works. Nothing happens in this country — no roads, no bridges, no firefighters, no military, no public schools, no nothing — without taxpayers footing the bill.
And much of that financing comes from the very small businesses that President Obama was lecturing on Friday and that he and his allies are desperate to raise taxes on.
Their economic philosophy appears to be that government is the engine of the economy, when in fact the government ceases to exist without economic growth and the tax revenues that fund all of the investments the President wants to spend on.
With this bizarre worldview, it is not really surprising that President Obama and Senate Democrats think that it is more important to raise taxes on over a million small businesses, than it is to prevent a recession and encourage job growth.
If we do not address the fiscal cliff, taxes will go up by over $4.5 trillion over the next 10 years. The President’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget has suggested that this might throw us into a recession. The Federal Reserve has suggested this dire outcome as well.
But instead of dealing with it, by extending the existing tax rates, the President and his Senate allies are playing chicken with the economic recovery. They are playing games not only with the economy, but they are playing games with people’s livelihoods.
This is a disgrace. The American people understand that tax increases in the name of deficit reduction, wind up being tax increases to fund larger government. And The American people will have the last say on this.
A recent poll found that a majority of the American people want all the 2001 and 2003 tax policy extended — all of it. Then we can undertake fundamental tax reform. Why can’t we do that? What is the other side’s objection? There is no real policy objection.
The only real objection is that it diverts the President and his Democratic allies from their real pressing business, which is apparently getting the President reelected.
So here we are.
Debating another bill that will do nothing to create a job and nothing to get our economy moving.
The politically motivated bill du jour is the DISCLOSE Act.
Mr. President, I oppose this legislation on policy grounds. But just as important, I oppose the majority’s ongoing effort to convert the United States Senate into a vessel for President Obama’s political campaign.
The majority knows that this legislation will not pass in the Senate, or at least they should know given the fact that this chamber has already rejected this legislation.
What’s worse is that it appears that the majority doesn’t even want this legislation to pass. What they want — and what has become too common in the Senate these days — is another dog and pony show, another opportunity to demonize the business community in service of the President’s class warfare campaign theme.
My friends on the other side of the aisle would have you believe that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has paved the way for a corporate takeover of our election system, that corporations are spending untold millions to influence elections with no accountability.
What they won’t tell you is that increased spending by Super PACs in this campaign cycle has nothing to do with Citizens United. While they’re touting the benefits of increased disclosure, they conveniently leave out the fact that Super PACs are already required to disclose their donors and that the Supreme Court — in Citizens United, no less — actually upheld those disclosure requirements.
Furthermore, and contrary to the majority’s talking points, Citizens United has not led to a dramatic increase in corporate campaign spending. Yet, the majority argues that the dangers of corporate campaign spending are ever-present and, as a result, we need to know the names and addresses of individual donors to such campaigns.
So with the dangers to democracy of corporate giving and the negative impact of Citizens United largely strawmen, what is the purpose of our debating this bill today?
Clearly, this effort is more about discouraging political speech than on transparency. It is just another effort on the part of the Obama Administration and its congressional allies to intimidate those who disagree with the President’s policies.
Not able to defend those policies, it is critical that the President discourage those who would criticize them.
We saw this last year when the President issued an executive order that would, in effect, give the President the authority to deny government contracts to certain companies based on their donations or political engagement.
Earlier this summer the IRS requested confidential donor information from organizations applying for tax-exempt status, information that is protected by federal law. This past June, I was joined by a number of my colleagues in expressing our concerns about these questionable IRS practices, and we are still awaiting a response.
Liberal advocacy organizations have publicly stated that they plan to use campaign disclosures to intimidate and embarrass those who have donated to opposing campaigns. As we have seen in several recent news reports, many political operatives have already done so.
The DISCLOSE Act would make this type of political intimidation easier and more common. So, given the other side’s track record when it comes to quote-unquote transparency, I hope they excuse me if I’m a bit skeptical when they claim that this is about good government and not about punishing political opponents.
If the majority wanted us to take them seriously in this effort, they would have at least included provisions that would apply the same type of standards to the labor unions who have, for decades now, bankrolled Democratic election campaigns. And, it is no accident that unions are far more likely than corporations to engage in the type of advocacy and political spending that the majority is deriding in this debate.
Yet, while the language of the DISCLOSE Act ostensibly applies to union spending, the unions’ bottom-up business model of funding their political activities would continue unabashed under this legislation without a single additional disclosure on the part of most unions.
This can hardly be a coincidence.
Mr. President, in Citizens United, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that money spent in the political process is protected by the First Amendment. While this may be accompanied by spending and speech that some find objectionable, such is the natural by-product of living in country that has a First Amendment.
While my colleagues are free to lament the results, they should not use this occasion as an opportunity to silence citizens who oppose their agenda and discourage their critics from speaking out. Because the DISCLOSE Act seems designed for that very purpose, I urge my colleagues to vote no on cloture.
As much as I disagree with the decision of the Senate leadership to play political small ball when there are pressing fiscal issues facing this country, I appreciate their desire to shift the debate to politically expedient legislation.
The fact is, from a policy perspective, this administration has come up wanting again and again.
Last week the President, when asked to evaluate the failings of his administration, claimed that he focused too much on policy. This is like a recent college graduate saying at a job interview that one of his biggest shortcomings is that he cares too much or sometimes works too hard.
Give me a break.
For all of the trillions in new spending and tax hikes, there is apparently nothing in the President’s policy record worth defending.
In fact, their modus operandi is to avoid any discussion of any policy at all. Pretend the last four years did not happen. Pretend the stimulus did not happen. Pretend the efforts at cap-and-tax and union card check did not happen. Pretend Obamacare did not happen. And instead, just smear the opponent.
When the President said that his administration needed to focus less on policy and more on storytelling, I guess this is what he had in mind. Rather than defend his own policies, he and his campaign surrogates would develop a storyline that smears your political opponent.
That is all fine and good. As they say, life is about choices. But let’s not sugarcoat this decision. It is an ugly one, and the President will have to live with it. Should the President be forced to defend his record, he would have a lot of explaining to do.