President Barack Obama will eventually raise taxes on the entire middle class because he has no plans to stop spending, the GOP’s soon-to-be senior senator tells Newsmax.
And the success or failure of the president’s bid to increase tax rates for the top two percent of earners is irrelevant in the matter, said Sen. Orrin Hatch in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.
The Utah senator — who will become the senior Republican in the new Congress set to convene next week — said that Republicans are leery of increasing taxes on Americans in any income bracket because they believe Obama will spend the money on pet programs rather than pay down the continuously increasing federal debt.
“I really question whether the president will allow a new bill to reduce the taxes back to the George W. Bush era for the 98 percent he said should keep those reduced taxes, once he realizes that raising taxes on the so-called wealthy will only produce about enough money for seven days of federal spending," said Hatch.
Watch our exclusive interview. Story continues below.
“He’s going to want to spread the base and come after the middle class for many, many more taxes and that’s where he’s got to get them if he’s going to keep spending like he is.”
Hatch, 78, said his sweet spot for deciding where to allow taxes to increase again is around the $500,000 point. With Obama in recent weeks moving off his insistence that taxes go up for those making more than $250,000 and saying he’d accept $400,000, he said Republicans should have asked for a lot more and put Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as well as the president, on the spot.
“If I had been in the House, I would have supported Speaker Boehner’s approach. The reason being that it really puts the onus on the Democrats where it belongs and it makes them have to vote to increase the so-called taxes on the so-called wealthy,” he said.
“In fact if Boehner’s deal had passed, 99 percent of all people would have had tax reductions compared to what’s going to happen if we go off the cliff.”
If the country careens off the cliff, however, Hatch, who has sat in the Senate since 1977, longer than returning senator except Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, expects Democrats to get the blame. “Can you imagine if it was a Republican president doing that? He’d be murdered by the national press,” he said.
“I suspect that they think they can turn this right around because they can put Republicans in a real bind in the next two weeks after the first of the year. What they’re not thinking about is that probably the American people are going to say hey, it’s the president who didn’t negotiate; it’s the president who didn’t come up with an alternative; it’s the president who isn’t willing to at least find some track here that people can support and the Republicans can support as well as Democrats.”
Turning to gun control, which has gained traction with a series of high-profile shootings, including the attack on the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 26 people were killed, Hatch said he expects Obama and the Democrats to attempt to bring back the ban on assault weapons.
But he said he would not vote for such a measure and that it would make little difference. Current gun laws, he believes, work.
The Connecticut shooter, he pointed out, was unable to buy his own gun. He managed to get weapons because his mother, who legally owned hers, did not have them properly stored — which cannot be blamed on faulty laws.
“He had applied for a gun and he was turned down,” Hatch said of Adam Lanza. “So the law did work. The problem was his mother, apparently, did not lock up her guns and he was able to get to those and not only kill his mother but a number of other people.
“Your heart just has to go out to everybody who suffered from the result of that but to necessarily blame sports people or blame gun manufacturers for it is the wrong way to go.”
Although Hatch was in the Senate when the original assault weapons ban came through the Senate in 1994, he said he didn’t have the votes to prevent it from being passed and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
He points out that the weapons used in the Connecticut school shooting were not “assault weapons,” but the image being presented to the public is more powerful than the facts.
“These are not assault weapons,” Hatch said. “They are made to look like assault weapons but they’re regular rifles and, frankly, they should not be used improperly but good people don’t use them improperly. Where they’re getting used improperly is by criminals and, of course, by people who culturally and otherwise are mentally unbalanced.”
Any assault weapons ban would be useless to prevent another crime like this simply because the weapons that law discusses already are illegal.
“Let me just put it this way: automatic weapons are already banned. True assault weapons are already banned. That’s all in law right now,” Hatch said.
“What they’re talking about are semi-automatics that you have to pull a trigger each time that are really not assault weapons but made and configured to look like assault weapons.
“Naturally, anybody who looks at what happened at Columbine or the Virginia college or Newtown has got to be very, very upset about it and very concerned that these type of things happen. We’ve got to find some ways around that but I suspect there are a lot more important things that have to be corrected than just the sale of guns to legitimate purchasers.”
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