Sen. Hatch must oppose any proposal to increase taxes, conservatives insist

Conservatives are pressuring Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchFinance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea Week ahead in finance: Clock ticking for GOP on tax reform MORE (R-Utah) to send a message to President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal MORE’s deficit commission by saying he opposes any tax increases.

One group said the senator faces “political suicide” if he doesn’t take a strong stance against increased taxes.

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Hatch, who is set to become the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, said he is likely to oppose any increases.

“Everybody knows I’m a tax cutter and not a tax increaser, so the odds are that I probably couldn’t support something that would increase taxes, especially given the amount of spending going on,” said Hatch.

Hatch, as the senior Republican on Finance, would have significant say over proposed tax increases, and conservatives believe he could send a message to the commission by taking a strong stance now.

“Sen. Hatch will be assuming the lead role on the Senate Finance Committee and he will be speaking for Republicans on taxes,” said Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union.

“It makes sense for him to come out with a clear position now, especially since the commission has already met twice,” Sepp said.

Hatch has questioned the wisdom of raising taxes while the economy is struggling and has said he may reject proposed tax increases even if they are recommended by a strong majority of the commission.

But conservatives want a definitive answer before the 18-member commission releases its recommendations for reducing the deficit.

The panel will issue its findings by Dec. 1. While the Congress is not required to vote on the proposed package of spending cuts and tax increases, the recommendations are expected to have significant political momentum.

And Hatch could face a challenge from his right in the 2012 Utah Republican primary.

Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzFive memorable moments from Hillary Clinton’s newest book Clinton says she mistook Chaffetz for Priebus at Trump's inauguration Curtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz MORE (R-Utah) has said he will decide whether to run against Hatch by the fall of next year.

The Club for Growth, which spent nearly $200,000 to defeat Hatch’s home-state colleague, Sen. Bob Bennett (R), would also like Hatch to take a strong stance against tax increases.

“We’d like to get a commitment from all Republicans on the Finance panel to oppose new taxes,” said Andrew Roth, vice president for government affairs at the Club for Growth. “It would be political suicide for Orrin Hatch to not do so.”

Hatch says he will not make any commitment to block proposals from Obama’s deficit commission before he has a chance to review specific policy changes.

But Hatch says the Club for Growth can rest assured.

“I like the Club for Growth,” he said. “I don’t make commitments in advance until I see all the facts. I think they can pretty well rely that I don’t believe in increasing taxes at this time. I think we should reduce taxes.”

Hatch has burnished his conservative credentials in recent weeks by making strong statements against Obama’s agenda.

He penned an op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune that bashed the Wall Street reform legislation as a proposal that would “stifle economic growth and job creation, strangle critical credit, send U.S. jobs overseas and add more burdensome, costly and misguided regulation onto the backs of struggling businesses.”

Hatch has also defended a new Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigrants from criticism by Obama administration officials. He said Arizona was forced to act because of the “catastrophic failure by the federal government to secure the border.”

Conservatives believe the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which Obama created by executive order, is likely to recommend tax increases.

“The commission gives you a Republican fingerprint on the murder weapon of tax increases,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative anti-tax group.

Norquist said the Republican co-chairman of the commission, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), has a history of supporting proposals to cut spending and raise taxes intended to reduce the deficit.

Norquist noted that Simpson supported proposals in 1982 and 1990 that increased taxes but failed to rein in spending.

Norquist has spoken recently to Hatch and believes the lawmaker will hold the line against tax increases, if for no other reason than he saw Bennett get kicked off the GOP ballot in Utah by angry conservatives.

“Orrin Hatch is not going to tolerate a tax increase,” he said. “He’s a man of principle, he’s a solid Reagan Republican and he just saw Robert Bennett get whacked.”

Any recommendations to cut spending or increase taxes would have to be approved by 14 of the commission’s 18 members.

Obama has appointed six of the panel’s members. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have each appointed three commissioners.

GOP leaders in Congress have appointed six members of the commission.

This means that any proposed tax increases would have to win the support of at least two Republicans appointed by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (Ky.) or House GOP Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE (Ohio).

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Those Republican members are Sens. Judd Gregg (N.H.), Tom CoburnTom Coburn-trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground Al Franken: 'I make fun of the people who deserved it' The more complex the tax code, the more the wealthy benefit MORE (Okla.) and Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate Banking panel approves Trump's Fed, comptroller nominees Harvey damage adds urgency to flood insurance debate Don't let funding for US Forest Service go up in flames MORE (Idaho) and Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Ryan: Americans want to see Trump talking with Dem leaders Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (Wis.).

Even so, Norquist believes it is “almost a certainty” the commission will suggest tax increases.

Hatch said even if it does make the recommendations with a big majority vote, he may reject the proposals.

“I’m certainly not going to be for something that doesn’t pass with honors, and I may not be for it even if it does,” Hatch said.