On the Senate floor last week, just hours before Republicans passed a $1 trillion tax cut, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown challenged Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch: Why were Republicans about to pass tax cuts for corporations and business ownerswhile the Children’s Health Insurance Program remains unextended?
Hatch reacted with fury. “Nobody believes more in the CHIP program than I,” he shot back. “I invented it. We’re gonna do CHIP. There’s no question about it in my mind, and it’s gotta be done the right way. The reason CHIP’s having trouble is we don’t have any money anymore.”
Then Hatch got himself into some trouble.
“I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything,” he said. “Unfortunately, the liberal philosophy has created millions of people that way, who believe everything they are or ever hope to be depend on the federal government rather than the opportunities that this great country grants them.”
Twitter erupted. “Orrin Hatch Seems To Think Children Helped by CHIP Are Lazy Takers,” a headline at the progressive website Daily Kos read.
If you read Hatch’s comments carefully, he really wasn’t saying that children are lazy. He’s saying that CHIP, for him, is an exception to the broader liberal agenda, which he believes costs too much and rewards those “who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything.”
But he was saying that there’s no money to extend CHIP, which would cost less than 1 percent of the cost of the tax cuts Hatch supports, because of spending on that broader social safety net. And that’s where his comments are truly revealing about the GOP’s priorities.
You can tell what a party really cares about by watching what they’re willing to pass, financing be damned. Republicans really care about tax cuts — and so they’ll overlook a $1.5 trillion hole in the federal deficit and promise that economic growth will cover it even when almost every independent analysis disagrees.