OTR Interviews

Hatch Pitches a 'Straightjacket' for Wasteful Spending

Veteran Utah senator pitches his Balanced Budget Amendment for government spending


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Orrin Hatch calls the Democrats big spenders and he says they must be stopped. Senator Hatch's balanced budget amendment comes up for a vote tomorrow and he says it would put a straightjacket on the addiction to spending. We spoke with Senator Hatch a short time ago.


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-UTAH: Nice to see you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, last August everyone agreed in the House and Senate there would be a balanced budget amendment vote. Tomorrow you're going to get your vote.

HATCH: We'll have two votes. One is on the Hatch and Lee and four other Republicans, all 47 Republicans for the first time have signed on to the amendment. It's a tough amendment. Then we're going to what the Democrats call a balanced budget amendment, which is a joke.


HATCH: What they are doing they are putting something out there so they can say they voted for a balanced budget amendment. It doesn't balance it at all. There is no mechanism to balance the budget. It's just a phony amendment.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do the Democrats have any appetite for a balanced budget amendment?

HATCH: They not only don't have an appetite, they can't subsist without spending your money. That is the way they keep themselves in power. They claim and take your money and taxpayer's money and they spend it and claim they are compassionate with your money. They are big spenders and want more taxes so they can spend more.

VAN SUSTEREN: First of all, the House voted on its balanced budget amendment. That failed. That was last month. Now, the Senate. But I want to back up a second. This isn't the first balanced budget amendment that you have been on?

HATCH: I have been on every balanced budget since I got here in 1977. And I have to say five of them before and two of them we got within one vote. We had 66 votes. In 1997, I had 67 votes. One of our Republicans slipped on us because the unions threatened to not ever support him again if he voted for the balanced budget amendment. We lost by one vote. Can you imagine if we won that vote in 1997 we wouldn't be in this colossal mess we are in today.

VAN SUSTEREN: You don't expect to win tomorrow?

HATCH: It would be miraculous if we did. We have all 47 Republicans for the first time, but we'd need 20 Democrats. And the Democrats keep themselves in power by spending your money and claiming they are compassionate.

VAN SUSTEREN: When the deal was struck last August when the House voted on a balanced budget amendment and the Senate voted on it, was that a gimmick? Did anyone anticipate there was going to be success? If there was no anticipated success, why was that part of the leverage in these deals?

HATCH: You never know. The success comes from making them stand up and have to vote it down. When the American people realize they are not consistently sincere to get spending under control. They are spending 25 percent of GDP. We never spend that much money since World War II when we were at the height of war. Usually we spend 18-20 percent. But 25 percent is a whopping trillions of dollars. They are running this right into the ground.

VAN SUSTEREN: If Harry Reid were here, what would he say is wrong with the balanced budget amendment?

HATCH: I don't think he would take me on. I like Harry on all that, but the fact is he is the leader of a group of people who just plain believe in spending and taxing and never getting things under control. They talk good fight, but when it comes to voting and getting things under control they are never there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where is the president on your bill? I assume since the Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn't want your bill it's not going to pass. Have you heard -- has the president said anything?

HATCH: He is opposed to it naturally because it would put a crimp on all the spending they're doing. If you look what he is calling for, more and more taxes. He's dividing classes demanding the tax and he knows there are 750,000 business leaders that would be hit by that. He is never going to make for a balanced budget amendment.

VAN SUSTEREN: Some people think that a balanced budget amendment might tie the hands of Congress to solve problems in the economy and for America. You disagree?

HATCH: We just had the Democrat budget committee chairman and talk about all the calamities that will occur if we stop their spending and taxing, and what we need to do is get together and do what is right. They have had 60 votes here and control of the House and didn't do one thing about trying to get spending under control. In fact spending took off like a rabbit being shot at by a shotgun. They are not sincere about getting things under control. There are some Republicans like that from time to time, but they are distinct minority in our party. Like I said before, I've been here 35 years and we never had a fiscal conservative majority because we've always had three to six more moderate Republicans who would always go with the liberal Democrats.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, nice to see you, sir, and merry Christmas, happy holidays.

HATCH: Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and everybody at Fox.