Hatch is Shortchanging Utah
Nearly two months after Utah’s GOP Convention, when Orrin Hatch failed to meet the 60 percent threshold of delegate votes required to avoid a runoff, Senator Hatch has finally agreed to debate his challenger Dan Liljenquist. Unfortunately, it’s only a radio debate.
Senator Hatch has been dodging requests not only from Liljenquist, but also from major media outlets that have offered to sponsor prime-time debates in Utah. Luckily, the snub from Hatch has not been a lost opportunity for Liljenquist, who has seized upon Hatch’s refusal to debate and has turned the situation into great media coverage. On June 7, Liljenquist manned a stage by himself and debated video clips of Orrin Hatch.
By the time the two candidates participate in the July 15 radio debate, it will have been 55 days since the Convention, leaving just 11 days until the primary election. This disparity has been damaging to the Senator’s cause as the media has not been kind. In fact, a noticeable turn by the media has already occurred. In reaction to Liljenquist’s pseudo-debate, recent headlines included “Liljenquist puts on a show…embarrassing moments for Sen. Orrin Hatch” and the Salt Lake Tribune published a scathing op-ed titled “When politicians lie” in regards to all of Hatch’s empty excuses.
Senator Hatch’s refusal to debate has added to his perceived arrogance and sense of entitlement to Utah’s Senate seat. Just two months ago, while speaking about the fiscal conservatives opposing him, he told NPR, “I despise these people, and I’m not the guy you come in and dump on without getting punched in the mouth.”
The people who are really getting punched in the mouth, figuratively of course, are the voters in Utah to whom Hatch has done a disservice by not allowing them to watch two candidates debate their political philosophies. Although both candidates are Republicans, the contrast could not be bigger. It was only last September when Senator Hatch told Fox News, “I don’t think we have to cut entitlements.” Dan Liljenquist, as one of the 2011 Public Officials of the Year, has earned the title “The Change Agent” for his work on pension reform that will save Utahn’s an estimated $770 million. Meanwhile Hatch, apparently blind to how quickly entitlement reform can turn a debt into a surplus (see Wisconsin), refuses to acknowledge the benefit of cuts and reforms and continues to vote to increase the debt ceiling.
After spending 6 terms and 36 years in the Senate, Senator Hatch has done virtually nothing to shrink the size and cost of government. He has, sixteen times, voted to increase the nation’s debt limit for a total of $7.5 trillion. That’s approximately half of our current debt. To make matters worse, Hatch has contributed to the beleaguered economy by voting for the Wall Street bailout (TARP) as well as the bailouts of the auto companies, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
If Orrin Hatch is unable to afford the time to debate his first primary challenger, one must ask himself if America can continue to afford the spending policies of Orrin Hatch.
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