I was watching the video of the discussion between Senator Hatch and Senator Brown and I got to thinking about Senator Hatch.
Hatch and Brown were sparring over an amendment offered by the Democrats in light of the Republican claim that lower corporate tax rates would increase wages. The amendment would hold Republicans to their claims, and undo the tax cuts on corporations if wages don’t grow for workers. Senator Hatch, the chairperson of the Finance Committee, was not in favor of the amendment. In fact, he was so offended by the amendment that he responded with self-righteous anger at being challenged by Senator Brown. But if this tax bill is really meant to help middle class and working Americans, not just corporations and rich people, what’s the big deal?
Senator Hatch has long been a proponent of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. He’s spoken time and time again on the danger of deficits and debt. Earlier this year he said:
…we have never been in a more serious, perilous situation than we are today. Two essential facts compel me once again to introduce a constitutional amendment to require fiscal responsibility: the gravity of the national debt crisis and the fact that neither willpower nor legislation will solve it.
I don’t agree with Senator Hatch’s assessment of the problem, but I think that I understand his words. At least, I thought I did, but for some reason he’s pushing forward a tax bill that would somehow both raise taxes on working families and increase the debt by nearly $1.5 trillion. Something’s changed, but it seems hard to believe that he genuinely cared deeply about deficits only to see the light now that tax cuts are on the horizon. Far be it from me to accuse the longest serving Republican Senator (ever) of lying about deficits in order to cut government services, so I am trying to think of what the total change in position could mean.
We clearly can’t trust what Senator Hatch has to say, so how are we to know what he actually thinks about this tax bill? The possibilities I see are some combination of:
- He believe that the best way to help the poor is to lower the taxes that are paid only by the rich, because the money from the rich will trickle down to the poor, and that, for some reason, is better than directly helping the poor.
- He believes most strongly that the United States government is too big and does too much, so reducing the size of the government is the right thing to do, so he is following the strategy of first reducing tax revenue, and then next year saying that government programs and services must be eliminated, because the government does not have enough tax revenue to support them.
- Reducing the taxes on the billionaires and millionaires is part of some grand compromise that is allowing him to do other things that he really wants to do.
- He believes in carrying out his duty to his party, and its leader (a billionaire real estate developer from New York), who is using political power to eliminate any and all taxes that are paid by billionaire real estate developers, and their families.
- He simply doesn’t care about the losers in this tax bill (the poor and middle class) nearly as much as he cares about tax cuts for billionaires and wealthy corporations.