Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), in his ongoing descent from elder statesmen to Tea Party darling, threw out some red-meat conservative rhetoric dissing France in a speech on the budget talks on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The choice is quite stark, in Hatch’s view. Americans, he said, need to decide whether we want to become Europe with a “cradle-to-grave” entitlement system that will slow down economic growth or do we want to “remain America, a beacon of freedom for the world.”
To drive his point home, Hatch ratcheted up the rhetoric another notch.
“[My constituents] do not wake up in the morn and say America would be much better if we we’re more like France. …”
Hatch was speaking in advance of two largely symbolic Senate votes on spending priorities today: one on the House version of the continuing resolution to keep the government funded through September, which aims to slash 2011 spending by $61 billion, and the Senate Democratic alternative offered by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), which would cut $5.1 billion. Both bills are expected to fail and demonstrate to both sides that a lot of work remains to find the sweet spot on spending cuts somewhere in the middle.
Don’t expect Hatch to vote on for any real budget compromise. Ever since Tea Party activists ousted his longtime Utah Senate colleague Robert Bennett in November in favor of Tea Partier Mike Lee, Hatch has been out to prove his conservative mettle. As the Washington Post reported Wednesday, Hatch has been sharpening his anti-Washington tone in pursuit of a seventh term.
“You’re not going to find a senator much more conservative than I am - unless they’re not very effective,” Hatch told the Post, adding: “The other side knows I’m tough enough and I’m not going to cave into some [expletive] Democrat liberal crazy idea. It’s just that simple.”