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Orrin Hatch Opposes Public Option in Health Care Debate

So says Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Finance Committee and outspoken opponent of the Democrats’ wishes to offer a government-backed insurance option in their health reform plans this year. Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today, Hatch said the Democrats’ plans would bankrupt the country. Asked about the odds of reaching a bipartisan consensus on the legislation, he said they’re “pretty bad odds.”

It’s worth noting that on health care, Hatch has no history of being oppositionist for the sake of being oppositionist. He’s a conservative, to be sure, but he’s also shown a rare willingness to cross aisles to accomplish shared goals. Famously, Hatch says he came to Washington to fight the liberal activism of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Later, he become one of Kennedy’s closest friends and sometime-legislative allies. Indeed, it was Hatch and Kennedy who united a dozen years ago to create the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP.

In fact, Hatch says the current health reform debate is suffering for the absence of Kennedy, who’s being treated for brain cancer.

Ted Kennedy would never have come up with a bill like that. His staff did. But the first thing he would have done is called people like me and said, “Hey, can we get together, can we resolve these problems?” And then he would, I think, work to resolve them.

And he’s the only guy on the Democrats’ side that can bring together the — you know, the unions, the trial lawyers, et cetera, the five or six major groups that are major funders of Democrats in America. He’s the only one that can tell them, “This is the way we’re going to go.” Nobody else has that kind of authority.

On that, few would disagree.

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