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Senator Orrin Hatch on Health Care Mandate

Senator Orrin Hatch on Health Care Mandate

By Campbell Brown - March 25, 2010

BROWN: Senator Hatch, welcome to you. It's really good to have you here.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, nice to be with you, Campbell.

BROWN: Talk to me about what we're seeing right now, the harassment, the threats of violence. You have been on Capitol Hill since 1977. Have you seen anything like this before?

HATCH: Well, frankly, I haven't seen it personally, but I understand it has existed.

You know, a lot of these people on both sides are decent, honorable people. They're just very upset right now. But, you know, there's no excuse for violence. There's no excuse for threatening violence. There's no excuse for, you know, rude and offensive conduct either. And both sides have committed it. You know, it's disgusting.

BROWN: Congressman Eric Cantor today, who I should mention had a bullet shot -- he says he had a bullet shot through his office window -- said that he believes though right now Democrats are using some of these threats as political weapons, trying to make more of it, and fanning the flames a little bit in the process. Do you agree with him?

HATCH: Well, they shouldn't do that because both sides have been out of line from time to time.

But the vast majority, in fact, almost 100 percent, of the people who are protesting or yelling or making a fuss about this, they're sincere people who really feel deeply about these issues. Those on the Democrat side feel deeply about health care. Those on the other side feel deeply about the big spending, big government, big controls, and, of course, some of the provisions of this -- of these two bills.

BROWN: But it goes further than that, further than people just feeling passionately about this. I mean, we're talking about death threats.

Have you reached out to any of your colleagues, Democrats or Republicans, and said, you know, let's join together on this and speak out very strongly against what we're seeing happening right now? HATCH: Well, of course I have.

And our -- we get along well. Even though I totally disagree with what they have done with regard to health care, I mean, you know, they have a right to do it. It shouldn't have been done in this partisan way. In other words, when you have a bill that affects one- sixth of the American economy, it shouldn't be partisan. It ought to be a bipartisan victory of 75 to 80 votes, in the minimum. And, in this one, it was totally partisan.

And of course that's caused an awful lot of ruckus and in some cases perhaps on both sides people who have been inappropriate.

BROWN: And, because of this, because of what's happened with health care, do you agree with people like John McCain, who says that, you know, this means the end of any sort of cooperation with Democrats going forward to November?

HATCH: No, I don't agree with that.

(LAUGHTER)

HATCH: But I think -- and, you know, Senator McCain's a very strong personality, of course. He's -- both sides enjoy him. He's an interesting personality.

But, no, I think we should look for ways to get together. But I have got to tell you, they have not reached out. They are not opening their arms, unless you believe in bigger government and bigger controls and bigger bureaucracy and more taxes. I mean, let's be honest. Republicans just don't believe in those things.

BROWN: But, apart from that, I mean, let's look at today, for example. You and your colleagues in the Senate sent changes back to the House. You could argue that some of those were substantive changes, but some clearly were put forth to do nothing but try to embarrass Democrats, basically stalling tactics, you know, things like voting against banning Viagra for sex offenders.

I mean, isn't that kind of thing just sort of petty and kind of a waste of everybody's time?

HATCH: Well, this is a health care bill. I think we ought to ban Viagra and Cialis and other sexual-enhancing drugs to anybody who's been a child predator.

BROWN: But who could possibly disagree with you on that? I mean, do you really...

HATCH: Well, they did. The Democrats voted it down.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: I know, but for other reasons. I mean, let's be reasonable here and have a conversation.

HATCH: Oh, no.

BROWN: There's no one who -- I can't believe in all honesty there's a single person, a single member of Congress on Capitol Hill who thinks a sex offender ought to get Viagra. Do you?

HATCH: No, I don't. But they voted -- they voted to not do it. They knew this bill was going back to the House. Why wouldn't they vote for that? I think...

BROWN: Oh, come on, Senator.

(CROSSTALK)

HATCH: No, do you want to know the truth? One reason is it's because it would have cost them money and it would have unbalanced some of the things that they have been trying to do.

And, you know, I don't think that was an inappropriate amendment. It was a health care amendment. It was a smart amendment. It was brought forth by a doctor who's one of the smartest people in the whole doggone United States Senate and who is always straight up about what he does. He is never trying to play games or pull punches. He actually does what he believes. And, you know, I can't get mad at a man like that on either side.

BROWN: You think, I know, the bill's unconstitutional because of the mandate for people to buy insurance. Politico is pointing out that, back in 1993, you supported a similar mandate. Why do you feel differently now?

HATCH: Well, in 1993, we were trying to kill Hillary-care, and I didn't pay any attention to that, because that was part of a bill that I just hadn't centered on.

But, since then, of course, 17 years later, when it comes up and I know it's possible it's going to pass, then I looked at it and, constitutionally, I came to the conclusion this would be -- and everybody has come to the conclusion that this would be the first time in history that the federal government requires you to buy something you don't want.

Now, we -- you know, it's a matter of liberty. If we allow the federal government to tell us what we can or cannot buy, you know, then our liberties are gone. And, frankly, this is a very, very important issue of liberty.

BROWN: Senator Orrin Hatch, we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much for joining us.

HATCH: Nice to be with you.

 

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