The Ripon Forum

Volume 45, No. 4

Fall 2011 Issue

The Forgotten Prize of 2012

By on August 14, 2014 with 0 Comments

by ORRIN HATCH

Orrin HatchIn 2008, only a few days before the presidential election, then-Senator Obama posed this question: “The Real Question Is, ‘Will This Country Be Better Off Four Years From Now?” Three years later, the answer is a resounding “no,” and the economic prospects for the next year are downright frightening.

When then-Senator Obama made that statement in October of 2008, the national unemployment rate was 6.5 percent. Now, the unemployment rate is at nine percent and more than 14 million Americans are out of work. In fact, the unemployment rate has been higher than nine percent for 28 of the 31 months since President Obama was sworn into office.

Americans understand that the handling of the economy by both the Obama Administration and the Democrat-controlled Senate has been a disaster, and they’re ready for a change.

While a change of direction in 2012 starts at the White House, it also includes President Obama’s liberal allies in the Senate.

That’s why my Republican colleagues and I are working hard to take back the Senate and put it back in the hands of American taxpayers.

 While a change of direction in 2012 starts at the White House, it also includes President Obama’s liberal allies in the Senate. That’s why my Republican colleagues and I are working hard to take back the Senate and put it back in the hands of American taxpayers.

As the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, I see firsthand the barriers that our tax code and entitlement programs play in our economic outlook.

The current tax code was put into place almost 100 years ago and has not had any major reforms for the last 25 years. The tax code is onerous, costly, and stands in the way of economic prosperity.

Unfortunately, Democrats in the Senate have shown no real desire to reform the tax code in a way that promotes prosperity and job creation. Under a Republican Senate, we will be able to significantly overhaul the code in a way that helps create a strong economy and allows American businesses to grow and compete in the global economy.

A Republican Senate would work to repeal the massive $2.6 trillion, 2,700 page health law and its trillion dollars in new taxes and penalties, reform our tax code by broadening the tax base, lowering both individual and corporate tax rates, and ensure that small businesses are not confronted with multiple levels of taxes. We’d also work to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), an additional tax on revenue that exceeds the ‘regular’ tax. In typical Washington fashion, the AMT was not indexed for inflation and as a result threatens to ensnare more Americans every year.

 A Republican Senate would work to repeal the massive $2.6 trillion, 2,700 page health law and its trillion dollars in new taxes and penalties, reform our tax code by broadening the tax base, lowering both individual and corporate tax rates, and ensure that small businesses are not confronted with multiple levels of taxes.

Another key area that a Republican Senate would address is runaway entitlement spending. Democrats created a massive new entitlement program with last year’s partisan health law. Republicans understand that we must reform entitlement programs – the leading causes of our country’s out of control debt – before they bring our economy to its knees.

The Obama health law cut more than $500 billion from a bankrupt Medicare program to finance new government spending. Republicans understand that using Medicare as a piggy bank to fund Washington’s spending addiction is not the reform America’s seniors deserve. The number of Medicare beneficiaries is expected to nearly double in the next two decades – from 47 million in 2010 to nearly 80 million by 2030. The simple fact is that the only way Medicare can exist in the future is if we reform it today in a meaningful way.

There are a number of steps a Republican Senate would take to utilize current Medicare resources better so we have a more efficient program for seniors and a more cost-effective program for taxpayers. One of the ways Republicans would work to preserve and protect Medicare so it’s around for future generations is to increase competition in the Medicare program and provide seniors with more choices. Additionally, Republicans would strengthen – and enforce – efforts to fight against waste, fraud and abuse. Just recently it was disclosed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are not utilizing some of the tools it has to protect against abuse, something that would not occur with a Senate under Republican control.

Another area a Republican Senate would address is Medicaid, which is bankrupting both the federal government as well as many state budgets. The Government Accountability Office repeatedly lists Medicaid high on its list of high-risk programs, and Medicaid represents a $380 billion target for waste, fraud, and abuse. Today, nearly one in four Americans is enrolled in the program.

That’s why Republicans want to modernize Medicaid and put it on a more sustainable path. Medicaid was originally supposed to be a program for low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals, yet under the big spenders in Washington it has grown to be just another out of control government entitlement program. The welfare reform that took place in the 1990s would serve as a model for much-needed Medicaid reform. By giving more control over Medicaid to the states, we can ensure that the reforms we pass are patient-centered reforms, but ones that protect taxpayers as well.

A Republican-led Senate would give taxpayers another voice in the legislative branch. Combined with electing a fiscally-responsible, principled leader in the White House, I am confident that we can right our nation’s fiscal ship and improve the economic outlook for current and future generations of Americans.

The past three years with President Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of the Senate has not worked. Americans deserve better, and that’s why the 2012 elections are so important.   RF

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Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is the Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee.

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