I read with great interest Sen. Orrin Hatch's Viewpoint article, "Washington has attention deficit disorder" in the Nov. 12Standard-Examiner. When I read that "Congress has to change their big spending ways," I was ready to read a list of very specific items that Hatch would identify for reducing the deficit.
But I found that the entire article was the usual finger-pointing, blaming the Democrats and repealing the Health Care Act. It seems like all the Republican leaders chant the same "mantra" as if they have been attending a madrassa that teaches them to regurgitate the same phrases. Didn't they get the message from the last election? A) We want jobs. B) We want the two parties to work together to solve our problems. Every poll taken shows jobs is the single-most important issue for about 65 percent of the electorate. The wars, repealing of the Health Care Act, immigration reform, etc., are a distant second with about 5 percent each.
Let's get back to Hatch's article. I have not been able to find in it a single program that he could name that should be reduced or eliminated. His statement: "When I become the ranking majority of the Senate Finance Committee -- arguably the most powerful committee in Congress -- in January, I will be ideally positioned to make an even greater difference for Utahns and all Americans in bringing fiscal sanity back to Washington" is classic Hatch: all words and no substance.
I would think that after 34 years in the Senate he would be able to specifically tell us which of the following he will attack and how much the deficit will be reduced by his initiatives -- federal jobs, Medicare, defense, education, infrastructure spending, farm subsidies, tax loopholes, tax cuts, income tax rates, federal salaries, etc. He can even start with the recent list presented by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles, chairs of the Bi-Partisan Commission on Deficit Reduction who have a long list of items to cut or reduce. He can also review several tax-funded committee reports over the past few years on how to balance the budget. This is not rocket science -- this is simple addition and subtraction of revenue and spending. It does not involve complicated steps like multiplication and division.
The Oct. 31 CBS program 60 Minutes' segment, "Deficits: Taxing the Rich" (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7009217n) had a lengthy discussion with David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director on his ideas for reducing the deficit. Stockman, who preached tax cuts in the Reagan era, presented an excellent assessment of today's challenges. Among the things he said were, "The Republican party has gone too far with the anti-tax religion message. Scratch any Republican today and he will say, 'tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts.'
Both parties are telling us a big lie. Both parties have thrown in the towel on cutting spending. In 1985 the top five percent of the households (the wealthiest) had a net worth of $8 trillion. Today their net worth is $40 trillion. They have gained more wealth than the whole human race prior to 1980.
A one-time 15 percent surtax on the wealthy would cut the national debt in half!"
What is sad about Hatch's article is that he pretends he will do something without saying how he will do it.
He knows that it is political suicide to force reductions to balance the budget, so he shakes his fist, writes articles that sound good, demonizes the other political party and hopes that he will be re-elected in 2012. I would think that by now, Hatch would help in using his expertise to solve problems rather than worry about getting thrown out of office by a Tea Party candidate.
We need to remember that Senator Hatch, supported every initiative of President George W. Bush, including the two mis-managed wars and the dismantling of financial regulations. Because of his strong support of Bush, along with other Bush cronies, we had the biggest economic meltdown the world has ever known and 2.6 million jobs were lost even before Obama took office.
Trusting Hatch to bring fiscal sanity is like believing that our new senator, Mike Lee will cut the federal deficit by 40 percent without knowing how.
As David Stockman points out in the 60 Minutes episode, "I don't think the politicians will do anything for the next two years. They're not just kicking the can down the road, they're kicking it into a junkyard."
Kulkarni lives in Perry.