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Campaign Hatch vs Finance Committee Hatch

April 20, 2012

This is one of my favorite exchanges from the Senate debate a few weeks ago. The question was directed to Senator Hatch, asking how his constituents can trust him to provide fiscal leadership when he’s voted for many things which expanded government spending.

I liked it because it got past simple campaign rhetoric and looked at real issues. Hatch’s response was that he has long been a sponsor of the balanced budget amendment – a standard campaign talking point of his. But when the candidates got down to actual policy, Hatch defended his spendthrift votes because in his words they “helped a lot of people.”

This produced perhaps the best line of the night when Dan Liljenquist said, “you can’t hold up the balanced budget amendment in one hand and then pass legislation which makes it impossible in the other hand.”

For me, the exchange highlights the differences between the Hatch of the campaign trail and the Hatch on the finance committee. Campaign Hatch inspires with conservative rhetoric, but struggles to defend the spending record of Finance Committee Hatch.

Contrast that with Dan Liljenquist’s record. As a freshman senator he tackled state entitlement reform head on and saved the state from a $6.5 billion pension shortfall. Had we done nothing, it would have cost the state 10,000 teachers. It was efforts like this that had the Deseret News calling Dan “the Utah legislature’s champion of long-term structural fiscal reform.”

It wasn’t easy. Pension reform is fought against every step of the way. But Dan knew the raw data, built coalitions, and got a substantive budget saving bill passed anyway. When the dust settled, the Deseret News singled Dan out as the “best evidence courage still exists in politics.”

Our Congress has a 13% approval rating. And I firmly believe it’s because those representing us lack the one thing we all crave: Courage. We’re tired of the rhetoric and partisan game playing. It’s time to elect leaders in Washington who are there to solve problems, not score political points. It’s time we had representation with the courage to tackle the hard issues of our day. I believe Dan is that leader because he has the record to prove it.

Senator Hatch has been in Washington for a long time. As you’ve attended his events and watched him in the debates you notice that he is running for reelection almost exclusively on that basis. Recently, the Salt Lake Tribune asked a state delegate about his choice in the Senate race. He responded, “if Washington is broken, why would we keep sending the same people back there to fix it?” I agree wholeheartedly. I want leadership in Washington, not just time served.

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