Compare US Senate Candidates
Ryan Summerlin October 15, 2012
Incumbent, Orrin Hatch (R) and Scott Howell (D)
1. Please describe your background and what has prepared you to serve in the elected office you seek.
HATCH: I have had the privilege to represent Utah in the United States Senate. During that time I have acquired valuable skills that have allowed me to represent Utah and defend its interests, and it is my hope that Utah voters will send me to Washington on their behalf one more time.
I currently serve as the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and if Republicans take control of the Senate I will be the chairman of this important committee. A Utah Senator as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees about 60 percent of the budget, ensures that Utah values of fiscal restraint will be represented. It will allow me to continue fighting for Utah by keeping Hill Air Force Base alive and well and continuing to work on land and resource issues so important throughout our state.
I will use my position on the Senate Finance Committee to work to reform our tax code and reduce our spending. I will work to reform entitlements and repeal the job-killing Obamacare. I will do everything I can to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.
It’s Utah’s time to lead, and together we can put America back on the right track.
HOWELL: I was raised in Salt Lake City and spent my summers in Castle Dale on my grandpa’s farm, learning the values of hard work and service. I graduated from Skyline High School and the University of Utah.
Hired during my junior year of college, I spent 34 years with IBM Corporation managing worldwide teams of employees.
Motivated to improve education, I was elected to the Utah State Senate in 1990 receiving over 60% of the vote. I served for three terms, with eight of my ten years as the Senate minority leader.
I am a former member of the Intermountain Healthcare Board and the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee and a trustee to the Board for Sutter Health.
I want to end the gridlock in Washington. I am still passionate about education and believe in fiscal responsibility — reducing the debt and balancing our budget. I will continue to fight for working class families, want to make social security sustainable, protect Medicare and protect our landscape for future generations.
I and my wife Linda are the parents of four sons and have four grandchildren, and we are all active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
2. The landmark health care law signed by President Obama, known as the Affordable Care Act, survived a court challenge with its core intact. Please identify, if any, one section of the act you support and one you oppose. Do you want the law retained or repealed?
HATCH: Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, I believe that the ACA is both unconstitutional and plain bad policy. If the government can compel someone to purchase a commercial product, this precedent can be used to force Americans to do just about anything. This is an example of gross government overreach, and I believe individual liberty has been circumvented.
The other problem with the ACA is that it requires money we don’t have, and in many cases it makes insurance more expensive and less comprehensive. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be added to our deficits as a result of this bill, the cost of insurance will rise for many families, and the quality of care will diminish as already struggling programs like Medicare and Medicaid become overloaded and underfunded.
I will do everything I can to work with like-minded members of Congress to repeal this legislation
HOWELL: I can’t justify going back and repealing the entire Affordable Care Act. My opponent has promised to, but has suggested nothing in its place. There are aspects of the ACA that I support such as extending the age to stay on parents’ insurance from 18 to 26, eliminating pre-existing condition barriers for children, and closing the prescription loophole for seniors.
Utah should also consider Section 1332 in the ACA: the State Innovation Waiver, which allows states to opt out if it can do a better job of providing health care to its citizens. The worst part of the ACA is that it did not receive bipartisan support, however the waiver is one of the only parts that did.
Ultimately, my biggest concern with the ACA is that it will not curb the quickly rising cost of health care, and for that reason, needs a look.
3. The unemployment rate in Summit County, though below the national figure, remains elevated as the impacts of the recession linger. What would you tell an unemployed person in Summit County if they asked you what measures Congress could take to increase the rate of job creation in the private sector? Please outline the top priority of your jobs platform.
HATCH: When our economy is strong unemployment is low, so we must create a pro-growth agenda that unleashes the power of our free enterprise based economy.
American capitalism made us the greatest of nations. We put our system up against the socialism and communism of Russia, and we proved the superiority of this approach. President Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill seek to emulate rather than avoid the mistakes of those who sought to grow government rather than business, and the results have harmed us all.
We can create jobs by keeping taxes low so businesses can afford to hire — rather than fire. By eliminating and streamlining regulations we can reduce the uncertainty that causes investments and loans to freeze up. If we want to grow our economy and put people to work we have to return to the free market principles that ushered in the prosperity of our past.
HOWELL: Again, unlike my opponent, I have released my plan for economic prosperity that will cut trillions from the deficit and create new jobs with a five-step plan.
First, we can spur job creation by enhancing small business access to credit. The 2013 budget gives $16 billion in Small Business Administration loan guarantees, which will help small businesses operate and expand. That amount is down $1.5 billion this year. I support maintaining past levels until job numbers go up.
Second, cut taxes for small businesses. They are the engine of our economy. We should end tax breaks for outsourcing jobs. We’ve already lost too many jobs and factories to countries overseas. We must reform unfair trade deals.
And finally, we can invest in American infrastructure. We’ve spent $80 billion rebuilding Afghanistan. It’s time to bring our jobs back home.
4. Comprehensive immigration reform remains elusive and mired in partisanship. Please outline an immigration-reform package that you would support, including whether you endorse the clause outlined in the DREAM Act allowing some people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country.
HATCH: Whatever we do with immigration, the rule of law must be upheld. I do not support granting amnesty to millions of people who came here illegally. Doing so is an affront to those who worked to come here honestly and legitimately.
I have worked in my career to strengthen our ability to protect our borders and enforce our laws. I worked to bring the Secure Communities Program to many Utah counties, so they could access federal databases of immigration history of criminal suspects. I’ve worked to bring an ICE field office and an immigration court to Utah, so we can address immigration issues at home.
I do not support the current iterations of the DREAM act, as it has grown from a narrowly crafted piece of legislation designed to help children of illegal immigrants who have done nothing wrong into a massive amnesty act that undermines our rule of law.
HOWELL: We share a 1,700-mile border with a country dealing with poverty and being ravaged by drug wars. The border relationship is complex with implications on America’s economic future and security.
With the DREAM Act, we are witnessing a perfect example of the partisan gridlock in Washington. I have been a consistent supporter of the DREAM Act. It is a sensible alternative to deporting 14 million people, by allowing eligible immigrants to contribute to our economy and our society.
If we want to secure the border, it will take a collaborative effort with the Mexican government. We have to help rid the cartels and build up Mexico so that citizens do not want to come here illegally. Border security is also an economic issue. It is in our nation’s best economic interest that the border remains an open trade zone, and that we do not let Mexico become a failed state.
5. Please discuss the successes and failures of U.S. policy in Afghanistan in the decade-plus since the fall of the Taliban shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. What role do you envision the U.S. having in Afghanistan in the future and what is your preferred target for a troop drawdown?
HATCH: I supported the surge of additional troops to Afghanistan. As a result, we have made important gains in the security of the former terrorist strongholds in the southern Afghan provinces. Unfortunately, the President made the political decision, in order to pacify his domestic base, to remove those additional troops before this progress could be repeated in the eastern provinces. I believe in making military decisions based upon the advice of our commanders on the ground to ensure the long-term security of our nation.
HOWELL: Before the surge just a few weeks ago, according to the 2012 Pentagon budget for 2012, the War in Afghanistan costs the US $300 million each day.
Our service members have already accomplished their mission in Afghanistan. By eradicating Al Qaeda, they destroyed the terrorist cell that brought down the Twin Towers on 9/11, killing over 3,000 innocent Americans. Our mission there has dragged on for over a decade, what has become the longest war in U.S. history.
We are witnessing the unspeakable tragedy of American men and women in uniform being killed by the security forces they are training. This year over 50 service members have been killed by Afghan military forces.
The U.S. cannot continue to assume all the debt and casualties that accompany maintaining peace in the Middle East. We must rely on our allies in the international community because we can no longer sustain our debt.
6. The fate of SkiLink, a proposed gondola connecting Canyons Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort, hinges on the sale of federal land to a firm under the Talisker Corporation umbrella. Please outline your support or opposition to the SkiLink legislation that is before Congress. What arguments in the SkiLink debate have been the most persuasive?
HATCH: The SkiLink is one of many proposals for a Wasatch Canyons inter-connect that my office has seen. I strongly support the idea of linking ski resorts, and I believe my sponsorship of the SkiLink proposal underscores that support.
HOWELL: Ski Link doesn’t sit right with me.
I’m willing to listen, but from what I understand, it would transfer a small portion of federal land to private hands but without benefitting the larger business community. It would eliminate the best practices administered by the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in taxpayer and private investment of millions to build the necessary purification capacity.
Supporters have not demonstrated that the project would increase tourism or solve transportation issues in the Wasatch Front. The connector proposal will not increase tourism to Utah, will not reduce traffic, and could set a precedent for undermining the system that we have in place that enables us to have the best water in the nation without the need for massive, costly purification plants. Instead, the proposal pits business against business, granting monopoly access to Solitude Mountain Resort without solving the problems it claims to address.
Utah deserves better.
7. The nation’s energy portfolio is increasingly diverse, but it continues to heavily rely on fossil fuels and imported oil. Please describe your ideal energy portfolio and what measures you would support in reaching that goal. In your answer, please address what impact your ideal portfolio would have on gas prices.
HATCH: I believe we should be aggressive about finding and using energy sources here at home. Rather than make ourselves beholden to those in the Middle East, we should seek to utilize the oil we have in Alaska and off of our coasts. I also support initiatives like the Keystone Pipeline that would increase our access to energy. Doing some or all of these things would reduce gas prices, provide jobs and be an overall boon to our economy.
I also believe in alternate sources of energy like natural gas and oil shale, both of which we have right here in Utah. I have worked on compromises with the federal government to allow Utah to go after these resources, and I will keep fighting to allow Utahns to use the energy resources beneath their feet.
HOWELL: I believe that renewable energy is homeland security. It means more jobs and safer jobs. One of the biggest obstacles facing our nation today is our dependence on foreign oil. I believe that breaking this addiction should be a top national priority. A comprehensive energy policy means increasing production of clean energy, so we can gain independence. Until we can gain full independence, however, we must ensure stability in the Middle East. I endorse utilizing technology and innovation from around the country to create solutions for clean and responsible energy.
Finally, I believe in investing in energy transmission and other renewable energy sources. We can be a world leader in energy independence and create much needed jobs with increased renewable energy initiatives such as wind farms, biofuels and solar technology.
8. Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.
HATCH: Unlike my opponent, I have the experience needed to work for Utah on day one. My 36 years in the senate have brought me seniority that allows me to better represent Utah’s interests. As the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, I am uniquely situated to fight for fiscal reform, balanced budgets and a simpler tax code. My opponent would be a freshman Senator scrambling up the learning curve and serving on minor committees rather than getting things done for Utah.
More important than position is policy, and here I also differ from my opponent. We have seen the economic consequences of President Obama and his Democrat allies over these last four years, and I believe we need to keep strong conservatives in the fight rather than send another Democrat who will vote for more spending and more government power to Washington.
America is at a critical crossroads, and we need conservative leadership to bring us back to the path of prosperity. I have a proven conservative record, and I have been fortunate to have the support of Utahns during my career. It’s Utah’s time to lead, and I hope to have your support one more time.
HOWELL: While my opponent has been in Washington, I have worked as a leader with IBM creating jobs, balancing budgets and implementing innovative solutions to our nation’s problems.
I was born in Utah, raised in Utah, and have experience in Utah State Senate, representing Utah, not a party. I gained a reputation of reaching across the aisle, and I will always vote, not with a party, but based on three principles: my conscience, my constituents, and the Constitution. Because of this approach, after only two years of service, I was elected minority leader. In 36 years, my opponent has never been elected leader.
In 36 years, my opponent has voted for three balanced budgets. In 10 years in the State Legislature, I voted for nine.
My opponent once supported bills that were important to Utahns, such as the Violence Against Women Act and the DREAM Act. He has turned his back on these issues, and is no longer serving the citizens of Utah.
I’ve spoken to voters in every county, and what Utah wants is a leader with fresh, innovative ideas and business experience and that has a track record of creating jobs, balancing budgets, and voting Utah values.