Six-term entrenched incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is attacking his conservative challenger, Dan Liljenquist, over his alleged support for tax hikes in Washington. My sides ache.
Liljenquist has never voted for federal tax hikes or massive entitlement spending or multibillion-dollar bailouts or serial debt-limit increases in Washington because he has never served in Washington. Never. Hatch, by contrast, has spent the last 36 years racking up a Big Government record that cannot be whitewashed away.
Outside the Beltway/Hatch fog machine, Liljenquist's integrity and commitment to reining in runaway spending are unassailable. In state legislative policy circles, he's known as the "Paul Ryan of Utah" -- after the courageous and wonky Wisconsin Republican congressman who's forcing kick-the-can politicians in both parties to reckon with welfare-state profligacy.
Liljenquist doesn't just preach fiscal discipline or embrace it during election years. He has led the way as a nationally honored budget and pension reformer in the Utah Senate. Unlike the 77-year-old Beltway barnacle Hatch, Liljenquist has spent his formative adult years excelling in the private sector as a global management consultant and business strategist. He also helmed a privately owned call center company that grew from two to 1,500 employees since its 1995 founding.
As a state legislator over the past four years, Liljenquist pioneered tough state pension and Medicaid reforms that serve as models for the rest of the states. His hard work earned him the nonpartisan Governing magazine "2011 Public Official of the Year" award.
Liljenquist is everything that Republican establishment types -- who savaged lesser-prepared Tea Party candidates in 2008 -- say they want the next generation of GOP leaders to be: smart, principled, articulate and unquestionably prepared for the office he seeks.
Keenly aware of both the urgency and complexity of entitlement reform, Liljenquist refuses to demagogue the issue. Desperate to hold on to power as he faces an unprecedented primary, Hatch has pounded Liljenquist with an out-of-context sound bite on a hypothetical federal entitlement reform deal that might possibly involve "revenue enhancements."
Based on a single media ambush against Liljenquist, Hatch and his ill-informed supporters are branding Liljenquist a tax-and-spender. This is Bizarro Land territory. And it is an abject sign of desperation that Hatch, one of the GOP's most profligate big spenders, is masquerading as a limited-government Tea Party godfather.
Fact: Hatch co-sponsored the $6 billion national service boondoggle in 2009 and dedicated it to his good friend Teddy Kennedy. As predicted, the federal makework program has become a slush fund for endless progressive social justice pet projects and Obama pals.
Fact: Hatch joined hands with Kennedy again to create the ever-expanding, tax hike-funded SCHIP health care Trojan Horse for Obamacare. It's now an $8-billion-a-year entitlement and growing.
Fact: Hatch voted to raise the debt ceiling 16 times over the past 36 years -- totaling future liabilities of some $7.5 trillion imposed on our children and grandchildren.
Fact: Hatch was an original sponsor of the open-borders DREAM Act illegal alien student bailout and voted for the trillion-dollar TARP bank-turned-all-purpose bailout.
Fact: Hatch was the third-biggest earmarker on Capitol Hill in 2010 -- including $50 million for his own Solyndra-style green energy failure, a bankrupt environmental firm known as Raser Technologies.
Fact: In the costly spirit of "bipartisanship" and comity, Hatch backed the nominations of Obama tax-cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and scandal-plagued Attorney General Eric Holder. "I like Barack Obama," Hatch said, "and I want to help him if I can."
Fact: Even after former corruptocrat Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., had shepherded the monstrously expensive and crony-friendly Dodd-Frank legislation through Congress and stepped down in disgrace over his Countrywide financial sweetheart deals, Hatch praised Dodd as "one of the better senators here."
Fact: Hatch attacked 15,000 grassroots activists who are members of the fiscal conservative organization Freedomworks. A petulant Hatch said "radical libertarians" challenging his entrenched incumbency deserved to be "punched in the mouth" for daring to oppose his bid for a seventh term.
Fact: Hatch "to this day defends his vote for Medicare Part D, which former comptroller general David Walker called 'the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s,'" according to Liljenquist's campaign manager, Holly Richardson (herself a former Utah GOP state legislator fighting for a fresh voice in D.C.).
Fact: Hatch has lied shamelessly about Liljenquist's pension reform record, ducked debates, and relied on crapweasel surrogates like turncoat former Pennsylvania Sen. and fellow D.C. fixture Arlen Specter, who likened Tea Party grassroots activists to "cannibals" on Tea Party-bashing network MSNBC.
Booting out Beltway barnacles closing in on four decades in power is not "cannibalization." It's healthy rejuvenation, restoration and rejection of the pernicious permanent political class our Founding Fathers so vehemently opposed.