It’s been a whirlwind month in Utah politics.
Air Force One recently touched down in Salt Lake City, where the president signed an executive order to correct decades of federal overreach in the management of our public lands. The president’s decision signals a new chapter in the campaign for local control — one in which Utah’s voices will finally be heard.
This sweeping action comes on the heels of the most significant tax reform legislation to pass Congress in a generation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will save Utah’s families thousands of dollars each year. This comprehensive tax overhaul will also be a boon for Utah’s businesses, slashing the corporate tax rate by 15 percent to even the playing field with global competitors.
But the bill not only brings much-needed tax relief to Utah’s families and small businesses; it also throws a lifeline to the millions of individuals in our state who are suffering under the burden of Obamacare. By repealing the individual mandate — the most costly and controversial of Obamacare’s many flaws — this legislation lays the groundwork for a new health care system that is both more effective and more affordable.
From the president’s official visit and his proclamation on public lands to tax reform and Obamacare repeal, this month has brought win after win for the people of Utah. With lower tax rates and more affordable health care on the way, our state has real cause for celebration.
But instead of getting carried away, it’s worth stepping back for a moment to ask ourselves how we achieved these victories in the first place. How did the stars align so perfectly for our state to secure — in just one week — three of the biggest policy wins of the last decade? What or, even better, who made this happen?
In answering these questions, Utahns need look no further than our very own Senate legend, Orrin Hatch. Although he usually shuns the spotlight, Hatch deserves recognition for his work as the savvy mastermind behind each of these policy victories.
It was Hatch who, back in January, first petitioned the president to fix Bears Ears. And it was Hatch whom the president recognized on that Dec. 11 visit as the impetus behind his decision to redraw Utah’s national monuments.
It was Hatch who invited the president to visit Utah in the first place. And it was Hatch who asked the president to meet leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and then accompanied him on a tour of Welfare Square.
It was Hatch who, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was the chief architect behind the tax bill that will create thousands of jobs in Utah and across the nation. And it was Hatch who, with characteristic foresight, decided to attach a partial Obamacare repeal to the broader tax package.
Hatch’s work ethic is legendary. He puts his nose to the grindstone and goes about the difficult task of legislating with no fuss and no need for fanfare. Working across the aisle and behind the scenes, he has managed to become the most accomplished legislator of modern times. And that’s no exaggeration; Hatch has passed more bills into law than any member of Congress alive today.
In the last Congress alone, he was the author of 45 legislative proposals that became law — the most of any of his colleagues and more than twice as many as the average senator. It’s no surprise, then, that the Center for Effective Lawmaking, a nonpartisan research organization, recently named Hatch “The Most Effective Senator” in the nation.
Because Hatch has long been a fixture of Utah politics, it’s easy to take him for granted. But we shouldn’t. He is a legislator of immense influence and immeasurable value to the state of Utah.
I’m not sure whether Hatch will seek re-election or retire, but one thing I know — here in Utah, we are exceptionally fortunate to have him as our senator.
Thomas Wright, former chairman of the Utah Republican Party, is a member of the Republican National Committee.