Sen. Orrin Hatch tells Newsmax that Democrats are willing to allow the country to go over the so-called fiscal cliff so they can then blame Republicans “for everything that’s wrong.”
But the Utah lawmaker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, insists that Republicans won’t allow President Obama and the Democrats to push through higher taxes on the wealthy and jeopardize 700,000 jobs.
Instead, he urges total tax reform and structural entitlement reform to put the country “back on its feet.”
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Hatch was first elected in 1976 and is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Wednesday, Hatch speaks about the fiscal cliff of higher taxes and spending cuts that looms at the end of the year.
“There are a lot of Democrats talking about being willing to go over the cliff,” he says.
“I can tell you this: I chatted with a leading Democrat this morning who said he believes they’re going to go into January without resolving these matters. And they figure they’ll put more pressure on Republicans at that point.
“Do you know what’s ridiculous? The differences between the two sides. Our side is the McConnell-Hatch bill where we would put this over for a year and dedicate the year to total tax reform. Their side is to get rid of the tax relief that Republicans have fought so hard for, and most Democrats too, for those earning over $200,000 a year. You know what the fiscal difference is between the two? $23 billion. So they’re willing to take us over the cliff because of $23 billion.”
Asked if the nation will in fact go over the fiscal cliff, Hatch responds: “No, but I am saying that there’s a growing desire on the part of some Democrats to take us over the cliff thinking they can blame Republicans for everything that’s wrong.
“Let me add one other thing: You cannot solve these fiscal problems without presidential leadership. It takes presidential leadership to work very, very strongly with both the House and the Senate. The president hasn’t put any program up at all other than this taxing the so-called rich that would produce about enough money to run the government for seven days.
“The fact of the matter is that’s why the McConnell-Hatch, Hatch-McConnell approach makes sense because we would put this over so that we don’t go over the cliff and then totally dedicate next year to getting tax reform done. And under those circumstances, it seems to me, both sides would have to come together in order to do a tax reform that would really put this country back on its feet.”
Republicans insist that major entitlement programs be on the table in exchange for their willingness to accept increases in tax revenue, but the White House on Monday said the administration is not considering changes to Social Security as part of the deficit talks.
Asked how much Obama has to concede on entitlements, Hatch tells Newsmax: “That’s something we need to be working on but let me be clear here. We’re not going to raise the top two marginal tax rates [affecting] close to a million small businesses, jeopardizing 700,000 jobs. The speaker has said that, [Senate Minority] Leader McConnell has said that, and as lead Republican on the Finance Committee, so have I.
“I’m not going to support new revenue absent meaningful, structural entitlement reform. I don’t mean tinkering around the edges here. I mean reforms that will have a lasting impact on the health and future of Medicare which will simultaneously bring down our over $16 trillion debt.
“There is a path to a reasonable solution and there is a path for increased revenue through comprehensive tax reform coupled with real, meaningful entitlement reform. And I’m confident that negotiations between the speaker and the president could be successful if the president’s willing to lead.”
As for what other options might be on the table, Hatch comments: “There aren’t any options that the president’s brought forth and I don’t know of any that the Democrats have brought forth other than they want to tax the so-called wealthy, meaning people earning $200,000 a year or more. And unless they get that, they’ll let the whole process go over the cliff.
“Keep in mind, I just made the point that structurally and fiscally they’re going to let us go over the cliff because of the want of $23 billion? I mean come on. In an economy as big as ours, why would they do that?”
A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 60 percent of Americans support higher taxes on wealthier earners.
Hatch says Americans are siding with the president on this issue “because it’s an easy political, philosophical thing to want to tax the rich. But when you look at the facts and what he’s doing, like I say, you’ve got a $23 billion gain by doing that. That’s not what’s going to solve this problem at all.
“Now Republicans have come to the table. We’ve offered revenue. We’ve told them that we will find revenue in a variety of ways from the tax expenditure standpoint, from other areas where we can save.
“But when will the president come in? He’s the one who can stop us from going over the cliff. All he has to do is start leading and tell us what he’d like to do and then we go from there. If he would put a plan, other than let’s tax the rich, on the table, a plan that literally has fiscal sanity to it, we’d have something we could start with and we’d have to work on it.
“That may mean changing some Republican views too. But I don’t know any Republican who wants to go off the cliff. On the other end, I don’t know any Republican who is going to buy off on the president’s let’s-tax-the-rich approach, which doesn’t produce enough revenue to really solve the problem.”
In his exclusive Newsmax interview, Sen. Hatch also says:
See other exclusive excerpts from the Newsmax interview with Sen. Orrin Hatch:
- The imposition of the Alternative Minimum Tax next year would result in “the largest tax increase in history.”
- Obamacare could push up to 22 million Americans into a Medicaid program that is already “running out of control.”
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