By: Paul Jacob
Back in 2012, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch pledged that, if elected, his current six-year term would be his last. On Election Day 2018, Hatch will be 84 years old. Still, Utah’s senior senator announced last week that he intends to run yet again — for an eighth term.
Why? Our newly-elected president “is all over me to run again,” Hatch told a Salt Lake City television station. “My leadership in the Republican Senate are all over me to run again,” he further explained. “The House leadership, some of those want me to run again.”
But what about the people of Utah? Shouldn’t they be consulted? Well, they were — but not by the senator. A poll this past January found that 78 percent of Utahans “definitely” or “probably” do not want Hatch to seek re-election — with 58 percent in the “definitely” camp.
“Hatch’s bid for an eighth term is an endorsement of term limits,” argued Richard Davis, a political science professor at Brigham Young University, in an op-ed in the Deseret News.
“For many years, I opposed term limits because I felt legislators needed the time to gain knowledge and handle the long-standing bureaucracy and the power of interest groups,” Davis wrote. “However, I have concluded that such knowledge can be gained relatively quickly and would become more effective if there were not highly senior politicians, like Hatch, who dominate a legislative body for many years.”
In 1976, Hatch challenged and defeated incumbent Democrat Frank Moss using the line: “What do you call a Senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home.”
Today, having spent over 40 years in power, Hatch only wants more. And, having spent more than half his life in the nation’s capital, he calls Washington home.
Home to third-term U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin is the rural Second District of Oklahoma. His small-town district includes Atoka, Choctow, Haskell, Nowata and Okmulgee. The only city in the district of more than 20,000 people is Muskogee, where, as Merle Haggard famously sang, folks “like livin’ right, and bein’ free.”
These proud Okies also believe that their Representative in Congress is supposed to work for them. They’re the boss. They pay their congressman’s salary, after all.
But Rep. Markwayne Mullin begs to differ.
Well, er, let’s just say he differs. No begging involved.
At two recent town hall meetings, in Jay and Okemah, the former professional mixed martial arts fighter responded to comments that the people pay his salary and health insurance with a sort of verbal karate-chop.
“You say you pay for me to do this. Bullcrap,” he aggressively retorted. “I pay for myself. I paid enough taxes before I got there and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go.”
Mullin’s taxpayer-funded PR professional, Amy Lawrence, was nice enough to explain the prickly, arrogant ranting of her boss, noting that, “Like all business owners, Congressman Mullin pays his taxes, which contribute to congressional salaries.”
Which means, of course, that his constituents indeed do pay his salary, because — Earth to congressman — they also “contribute” their taxes. The fact that Rep. Mullin pays taxes, too, doesn’t alter that simple reality.
Or, as that song goes, speaking of altered reality, “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee/ We don’t take no trips on LSD.”
Furthermore, though Mullin claims being a member of Congress is not how he makes “his living,” he does, nonetheless, deposit into his bank account a not inconsequential $174,000 a year in congressional salary. That’s almost five times the median household income in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
But remember: the bennies for a member of Congress don’t stop with high pay. Mr. Mullin receives both a lucrative pension and lavish health insurance — the latter of which, adding insult to injury, flouts the Obamacare law that Congressional Republicans have proven unable to repeal and replace.
After Congressman Mullin’s “bullcrap” comments went viral, a town hall set for Tahlequah was abruptly canceled . . . for security reasons.
There’s no place like home.