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Hatch Would Be Lodestar In New Senate Firmament

Investor's Business Daily
February 1, 2012
By Ernest S. Christian

All eyes seem to be on the presidential race - and, indeed, the defeat of Barack Obama is essential to protecting Americans from still further damage by this most leftwing of presidents. It is time for him to go.

But in addition, before the damage can be repaired, before freedom and job-creating prosperity can be fully restored, before genuine tax and entitlement reforms can be enacted, Republicans must succeed in wresting control of the Senate from the liberal Democrats.

If Republicans do gain enough additional Senate seats to proceed with restoring the American Dream, a vital ingredient will be the reelection of Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

This esteemed and principled conservative will become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax reform, most entitlement reforms and the disposition of ObamaCare, as well as international trade. In the hands of a conservative like Hatch, the committee will be the gateway to a bright future for America.

Hatch will be only the 40th person to be chairman of the venerable "SFC", as it is called. (The first was Sen. George Campbell of Tennessee in 1815.) The important thing, however, is that Orrin Hatch will be the first genuine free-market conservative to occupy that powerful position in modern times.

The present author has known and worked with every chairman of the SFC since 1970. All good men and true. A few have been liberals, especially when scratched below the surface. But the rest have considered themselves to be moderates - and sought to act accordingly.

In the interest of bipartisanship, Senate moderates have too often been unwilling to make a clear-cut choice between the free-market principles of conservatives and the big-government desires of liberals, usually seeking to blend these two irreconcilable opposites, and with the best of intentions, typically coming up with schizophrenic legislation that is in the long run unworkable.

Moderation in some things is admirable - temperament, speech and appetite are perhaps good examples. But moderation in the pursuit of genuine tax reform is definitely no virtue - especially at this critical point in history.

The ability of the damaged economy to start growing and providing high-paying jobs for the current and future generations of Americans depends heavily on getting rid of a truly bizarre tax code that is, itself, the result of compromised principles and inverted logic perpetrated by prior Congresses and presidents.

Now is no time to flinch. Next year, the Congress will have the historic opportunities of, on the one hand, fixing our mind-boggling tax code and, on the other, preserving Social Security and Medicare on a sound financial basis. This is a job for those well anchored by strong freemarket principles. And only those able to cut through a mass of confusing details need apply.

All kinds of tax reform proposals will be offered up - some good, others ersatz and dangerous. Having an old pro like Hatch at the helm of the Senate Finance Committee will help sort out the difference.

Similar traps and opportunities for disaster lie along the road to fixing Social Security and Medicare as well - and, for all these reasons, few in the Congress have heretofore even been willing to try.

The stars now, however, seem to be coming into alignment in the political firmament. All proponents of genuine reform should rejoice. With Congressman Dave Camp in charge of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Paul Ryan in charge of the House Budget Committee (and much else) and Hatch in charge of the Senate Finance Committee, there will be an abundance of smarts, experience and integrity. No one is going to bamboozle this fiscally conservative team.

Add to that a Republican president, and it will soon be possible to clear up the big-government mess left by the Democrats as their 20th century legacy.

Then, at long last, after the costly delay caused by Obama, all Americans can join hands and move forward into a 21st century of unprecedentedly high levels of freedom and prosperity, derived from the dynamic combination of free markets, small government, new electronic wizardry and old-fashioned values.

As the late Jack Kemp once said (slightly paraphrased): "The power of (a person or group of people) doing the right thing for the right reason, and at the right time, is the greatest influence in our society."

Christian is a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who served in the Treasury Department under President Ford, was on President Reagan's transition team and is director of the Center For Strategic Tax Reform.


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