OTR Interviews

For outnumbered Senate Republicans, undoing ObamaCare is first priority - with the election of a new president

Sen. Orrin Hatch sounds off on what it would take to get rid of Pres. Obama's national health care reform law


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 9, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Republicans are vowing to repeal ObamaCare and today, as promised, House Republicans officially launching their effort, the House Rules Committee meeting tonight. They are getting the health care repeal bill ready for tomorrow's debate. The vote comes Wednesday, but that's the House.

What do Republicans in the Democratically-controlled Senate plan to do about the health care law? We asked Senator Orrin Hatch.


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

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

VAN SUSTEREN: I know you're opposed to the president's health care, and I know you know what the Supreme Court decided. I know how the House will vote on it this week. But the United States Senate is dominated by the Democrats. Is there anything the Republicans in the Senate intend to do or can do?

HATCH: At the present time nothing. But I have to say that we do believe this election is important. It's going to determine whether we have to go with this awful health care bill or whether we're going to repeal it and replace it. I believe the way that has to happen is for Mitt Romney to get elected president, and I think bringing in enough Republicans to take over control of the Senate. At that point I would be chairman of the finance committee. And of course, one of my biggest goals would be to straighten this whole mess out.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you heard at all from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid since the Supreme Court decision? Has he said anything at all about health care?

HATCH: Not much. The Democrats were elated that the health care Bill was held to be constitutional. However, that's maybe too small of an opinion, because actually when the chief justice basically called the Medicaid expansion unconstitutional, that was a very, very big part of that. And I've been predicting that. I think I'm the only one who was predicting. If I had my way, I would have held the individual mandate unconstitutional, but I would have certainly said you can't force the state to take more and more Medicaid recipients and when they know that the monies aren't going to be there in the future.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does Governor Romney get out of the two-step he's in? His assistant or his campaign leader said that it is not a tax, and then the governor comes out and he says it's a tax. He's getting hammered from both sides. How does he walk out of this?

HATCH: I think the flip-flop is really on the part of president, because the president and his own solicitor general argued that it was tax. All the way through the legislative process here, the president and his allies argued that it was a penalty, and now all of a sudden it's a tax, so that it would defeat the Republicans approach toward the individual mandate. Now they're trying to say, well, it's just really a penalty. Unfortunately for them, the chief justice and the majority of the members of the Supreme Court held that it is a tax. And therefore, that means that well, if you talk about a tax, that means about 77 percent of people earning less than $120,000 a year are going to have to pay it. And by the way, 10 percent of the people earning less than $23,000 a year, the poverty level, have to pay that tax as well. It's going to be a devastating thing for those not earning a lot of money in our society. They're trying to get away from it by saying, oh, well, it's a penalty. No. The Supreme Court has held it's a tax. It's a tax.

VAN SUSTEREN: The news of the day, of course, is President Obama wants to extend the Bush tax cuts to those who make under $250,000 a year. Vice President Biden is in Missouri campaigning. He said that the GOP is deliberately hurting the economy. Your response to the vice-president and also to the new --

HATCH: You know what's going to hurt the economy? If we go to what the "Washington Post" called tax-amaggedon. I think guess it was the "Wall Street Journal." If we go to that it will be the highest tax increase in the history of this country and it will hit just about everybody.

VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama said he did 18 tax cuts for people. He threw out the number of the tax cuts since he's been president. Is he cutting taxes for Americans?

HATCH: Anybody who believes that hasn't looked at the record. And $500 billion in tax increases alone in the Obama care bill. Their whole goal is to get more money so they can spend more money and claim they're doing a lot of good for the American people as they run us into bankruptcy.

I just found out today, and I knew it was so, that we're now -- that our national debt is 103 percent of the GDP. Think about that, 103 percent of the GDP. Spain, which is in real trouble, is like, what, less than 70 percent of GDP. That tells you something.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I'm curious. We expect a very busy lame duck activity here on Capitol Hill after the election. There are issues having to do with the Bush tax cuts, the extension. There's the question about the debt ceiling, whether that's going to be raised because we're pushed up against it. Why not do this now? Why not all the Republicans and Democrats start working on this right now before the election? They have six months to get ahead of the game. Instead, everyone is waiting until after the election.

HATCH: The Republicans I think are willing to do that. They're not willing to go with the largest tax increase in history.

VAN SUSTEREN: Just start talking about it. Let's start moving the ball forward.

HATCH: I think we should. We've actually said, look, let's put this over for a year during which we really concentrate all of the efforts of the Congress on reforming this awful tax code and getting things under control. I think that makes sense, and I think at least six Democrats now seem to be saying that makes sense. And I think there will be more than six as time goes on.