One of the strongest selling points for the re-election of 77-year-old six-term Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is that if the Republicans regain control of the Senate, Hatch will become the Finance Committee Chair. If he's not re-elected, then Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe would become the committee chair, and she's portrayed by the Hatch camp as more of a tax-and-spend lawmaker.
But just how much difference really exists between Hatch and Snowe? Back in September 2011, a website called Dethrone Orrin Hatch performed a comparative analysis of the key votes by both lawmakers, and reported the following findings:
-- Using Opencongress.org’s comparison tool, Dethrone found that since January 2007, Hatch and Snowe have voted the same 72 percent of the time.
-- Upon reviewing the votes compiled at HatchRecord.com to see how they both voted since Snowe first took office in 1995, Dethrone found that for 47 key votes analyzed, the two Senators voted the same 43 times, or 91.4 percent of the time.
HatchRecord.com contains a wealth of additional information on Senator Hatch's voting record. They've tracked and documented numerous key votes by Hatch from 1979-2009, providing links to the specific legislation. While I might agree withe some of the votes, a few of his more outrageous votes include supporting TARP in 2007, voting to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008, and voting to allow taxpayer dollars to be used to bail out auto manufacturers in 2009. I call that "corporate welfare". Hatch also proposed the controversial DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for the children of illegal aliens. Numbers USA gives Hatch a letter grade of only C+ on immigration, the worst grade of anyone in Utah's Congressional delegation.
And let's not forget that Orrin Hatch is also the author of the infamous Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which opened the door for copyright trolls like the RIAA and Righthaven to file no-warning lawsuits against people who use other's content without permission, even if they stay within the bounds of fair use. The abuses of Righthaven are amply documented at Righthaven Victims and in a series of stories published by Steve Green in the Las Vegas Sun; they are too numerous to be discussed here.
In fairness to Senator Hatch, he has taken a number of conservative positions. The American Conservative Union rated him a perfect 100 for 2010 and an 89.47 for his career. Early in his career, Senator Hatch wanted to roll back provisions of the Fair Housing Act to increase the burden of proof upon those who make complaints. He's fought to stop the appointment of excessively liberal judicial candidates and supported the appointment of trusted constructionists. He voted against Obamacare, and has sponsored a Balanced Budget Amendment 17 times.
However, the same senator who sponsored a Balanced Budget Amendment 17 times has also voted to increase the debt ceiling 16 times, by an aggregate total of $7.6 trillion. I get it -- if you can't actually reduce the budget, then you redefine the term "balanced budget". If the goal posts are too deep in the end zone, move the goal posts closer. Unfortunately, that's how we got into our financial predicament -- instead of proposing and implementing solutions, we redefined parameters. Now we have a $15 trillion national debt, at least 12 million illegal aliens in the United States, a de facto unemployment rate of 18 percent (the official rate of 9 percent only counts those actively seeking work), and a glut of foreclosures in many cities, most notably Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Hatch has already attracted one challenger; Democrat Pete Ashdown, who got 31 percent of the vote against him in 2006 despite being grossly outspent. Republican State Senator Dan Liljenquist (R-Bountiful) is also contemplating an intraparty challenge, but the 2011 Legislator of the Year won't make a final call until early in 2012. Holly Richardson seems to be quite sold on Liljenquist. Rep. Chris Herrod, an immigration reform firebrand who boldly called out Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank for refusing to enforce the law on illegal immigrants, is also considering a run against Hatch.