Sen. Orrin Hatch left no doubt about his feelings on the Affordable Care Act and its supporters in a speech touching on the “wonderful bill called Obamacare.”
The Utah Republican minced no words talking to a conservative crowd Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute as he noted how the new GOP tax reform law eliminated Obamacare’s individual mandate.
“We also finally did away with the individual mandate tax that was established under that wonderful bill called ObamaCare – now, if you didn’t catch on, I was being very sarcastic,” Hatch said. “That was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen.”
But Hatch, who turns 84 this month, also had a word for anyone who supported former President Obama’s signature health care law.
“Now, some of you may have loved it. If you do, you’re one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met. And there are a lot of them on Capitol Hill from time to time,” the senator said.
The mandate had required people to have health insurance and imposed penalties on anyone in violation. President Trump signed the Republican-backed tax plan in December which eliminated the mandate penalty.
The senator’s remarks drew some laughter from the crowd but a spokesman for Hatch later issued a statement.
“The comments were obviously made in jest, but what’s not a joke is the harm Obamacare has caused for countless Utahns,” Matt Whitlock told Deseret News.
Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the mandate had “represented one of the great ironies of Obamacare.”
“The law forced people to buy health insurance or pay a tax while also making health insurance less affordable,” Hatch said. “By zeroing out the individual mandate tax, the new tax law took a major step forward in the ongoing effort to fully repeal and replace Obamacare.”
Hatch, who announced he is retiring after his seventh term in Congress, joked to the crowd about getting a job after he steps down.
“I don’t want to make this event awkward for anyone, but if any of you know who might be hiring, please put in a good word for me,” he said. “I’ve got a fair amount of experience, but even if it’s not technically enough for a particular job, I’m a really quick learner. I’ll make sure you all get a copy of my résumé.”
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