Sen. Orrin Hatch continues to keep Utahns in suspense on whether he will run for an eighth term in 2018, but he has fueled speculation he wants to stay in Washington another six years by touting his chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee.
If that’s the reason he believes voters should keep him in office, that ought to scare the hell out of all Americans.
The last Utah Republican to head the Senate Finance Committee helped push the country into the Great Depression and, after being elected five times, was soundly defeated on his sixth try largely because of that disastrous feat.
His name was Reed Smoot, who was a Mormon apostle during the 30 years he spent in the Senate.
Like Hatch, he was a staunch conservative. Like President Donald Trump, on whom Hatch has lavished praise and loyalty, he was a protectionist, with an America-first idea that discouraged a worldwide partnership with other countries.
Smoot co-sponsored the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930, which boosted U.S. tariffs on more than 20,000 imported goods.
The tariffs triggered retaliation from America’s trading partners, reducing U.S. exports and imports by more than half during the 1930s.
Although economists disagree by how much, the consensus view among economic historians is that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff exacerbated the Great Depression.
While that occurred before the 83-year-old Hatch was even born, it’s still worth the comparison.
Hatch has shown the same rigidity as Smoot did, using his committee chairmanship to keep Democrats and other stakeholders out of the process in writing the tax bill that likely will be passed by a Republican-only vote this week.
Hatch, like Smoot, has ignored warnings from bipartisan analysts about the measure’s consequences, including estimates it would balloon the national debt by more than $1 trillion over 10 years and low-income to middle-class families eventually would be hurt while the super-rich enjoy massive tax cuts.
Another powerful Utahn, former Sen. Jake Garn, headed the Senate Banking Committee when he co-sponsored the Garn-St. Germain Act of 1982, which eased regulations on financial institutions. While historians disagree, it is argued that the deregulation was a factor in the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s in which many financial institutions failed and consumers lost millions from their savings.
The invisibles • San Juan County officials, state leaders and Donald minions insist the Native American population had an equal stake and received a fair voice in the process leading up to the president’s dismantling of the Bears Ears National Monument.
But the actions and rhetoric of those white officials have put the lie to that argument. In fact, they don’t seem to think the Native Americans even exist.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had little time for the Native Americans when he came to Utah to “review” the monuments. We all know the fix already was in.
As Trump was preparing to make his announcement, Rep. Rob Bishop told KSL Radio’s Doug Wright that nearly everyone in San Juan County favored Trump’s drastic shrinking of the monument. Apparently, the county’s Native Americans don’t count because they overwhelmingly favored keeping the monument intact.
And they happen to be the majority.
San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams said during a hearing on Bears Ears last year that his people deserved more say in the decisions on the monuments because they settled the area 150 years ago. That brought gasps from the Native Americans in the audience whose ancestors resided there centuries earlier.
On the right-wing talk show Red Meat Radio, San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman recently said that despite impressions outsiders might have, the relationship between the white population and Native Americans is cordial and cooperative.
He said that in the wake of the county commissioners’ argument in court that a proposed redistricting arrangement — which would likely give Native Americans two seats on the three-member commission — would result in discrimination against the whites. Their attorney said it would be wrong to have 47 percent of the population represented by just one commissioner.
He missed the irony that the more numerous Native population is represented by just one of three commissioners.
It’s no surprise, then, that a disproportionate amount of county resources goes to the predominantly white populations.
But, hey, they all love one another.
Speaking of invisible • I wrote earlier about the family of House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, an early and passionate Trump supporter, sitting on the front row of spectators during the president’s ceremonial signing of the executive order dismantling two Utah national monuments. The family of Gov. Gary Herbert, a late-coming and sometimes wishy-washy Trump backer, was relegated to the second row.
But at least Herbert got to sit up with Trump during the signing.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has been one of Trump’s harshest and most consistent critics among Utah Republicans. So when the Utah officials were invited to join Trump at the front of the room, Cox was banished to outer darkness.