Democrats seized Thursday on remarks by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in which he appeared to suggest the poor should have a greater responsibility to contribute to government coffers.
Hatch, during a speech Wednesday on the Senate floor, seemed to say that the poor — or, at least, a greater share of the middle class — could do more to address the deficit.
"I hear how they're so caring for the poor and soforth. The poor need jobs, and they also need to share some of the responsibility," Hatch said, referring to Democratic rhetoric. "Now we don't want the really poor people who are in poverty to pay income taxes. But 51 percent of all households? And that's going up, by the way, because of our friends down in the White House and his allies."
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) pounced Thursday on Hatch, who faces a potentially difficult reelection next fall, as well as a possibly difficult primary challenge.
“Republican priorities are completely out of whack, and Orrin Hatch’s comments prove that point," DSCC spokesman Shripal Shah said. "It’s bad enough that Republicans are doing everything they can to protect tax breaks for millionaires and special interests, but the fact that the Republican idea of shared sacrifice means going after the those who are struggling the most is completely reprehensible.”
Hatch made his remarks in the context of an extended speech about how a GOP-oriented approach of "shared prosperity" was preferable to the kind of "shared sacrifice" about which President Obama has talked. His point was that Democrats' definition of the "poor" was far more expansive in their rhetoric than it was in reality.
"Obamacare, a family of four earning over $80,000 a year, gets subsidies!" he said, using the president's healthcare reform law as an example. "Think about that. And that's what we call the 'poor'? They wonder why the monies don't go far enough."
Here's a full excerpt, and video, of the relevant portion of Hatch's speech:
I get a little tired of hearing about the Obama approach of 'shared sacrifice.' Shared sacrifice is something — sounds good — but I'd prefer the Republican approach to shared prosperity. And that's what I think we're all about.
When you talk about 'shared' — think about this — it's pretty irrefutable that the bottom 51 percent of all wage earners, of all households, do not pay income taxes. The top 1 percent — the so-called 'wealthy' — pay 38 percent of all income taxes. The top 10 percent are paying 70 percent of all income taxes. The top 50 percent pay something like 98 percent of all income taxes. Fifty-one percent don't pay anything.
But Democrats say, 'Well, they pay payroll taxes.' Well, everybody does that, because that's Social Security. And they pay about one third of what they're going to take out over the years from Social Security.
Obamacare, a family of four earning over $80,000 a year, gets subsidies! Think about that. And that's what we call the 'poor'? They wonder why the monies don't go far enough? When are we going to wake up and realize that the other side just spends and spends and spends, and they want to tax and tax and tax so they can spend some more.
My gosh, when are we going to wake up in this country and realize they're spending us into oblivion? And I hear how they're so caring for the poor and soforth. The poor need jobs, and they also need to share some of the responsibility.
Now we don't want the really poor people who are in poverty to pay income taxes. But 51 percent of all households? And that's going up, by the way, because of our friends down in the White House and his allies.
I wish I didn't like him so much, or I'd be really able to let go here. But I like him personally. And I want him to be successful. But he's not going to be successful by just taxing the daylight of people around here.