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Bob Bennett a ‘Socialist’? Shurtleff on ‘taking back America’

November 9th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Storee Powell

Utah is undoubtedly one of the reddest states in America, if not the most conservative. For most people, Utah’s junior U.S. senator, Bob Bennett, would qualify as about as Republican as one can get. But not in Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s book.

Shurtleff, who just pulled out of the GOP primary for Senate, had been attacking Bennett on social issues. “I’ve always wanted to serve in the Senate, though I thought it would be later in life,” Shurtleff said during his campaign. “But what happened last year with the financial collapse and how our Congress responded to that, particularly Senator Bennett, caused me to think I need to take him on to give people a choice.”

Shurtleff’s campaign slogan, “Taking Back America” (see http://markshurtleff.com/home.php) implied that he wants to take America back from the likes of Bennett and “from those who vote to bail out private mismanaged corporations” and “those who are heading us down the slippery slope of socialism.”

According to Shurtleff, Bennett has become a “big-spender” and isn’t a true Republican anymore. The attorney general says Bennett has misused his power on the Joint Economic Committee, referring to Bennett’s vote for 2008’s bank bailout.

“I didn’t elect him to go to Congress to grow federal government and use taxpayer money to bail out major corporations, putting us further in debt,” Shurtleff said.

Although Bennett did vote for the $700 billion federal bailout of the banking industry—a Bush administration measure—a Washington Post database shows Bennett voting with the Republican Party 84.7 percent of the time during the current Congress. Bennett, a millionaire businessman who was first elected to the Senate in 1992, is a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee and a former member of the Joint Economic Committee, which decides on national economic policies. He is about as far from “socialist” as it is possible to be.

Shurtleff, who appeared recently on the USU campus just before his decision to end his campaign, says he knew the mortgage crisis was coming since 2002 when he was suing subprime mortgage companies to “avert the disaster.” But congressional support of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and other government programs to help lower-income Americans buy homes, continued the financial decline.

An eFinanceDirectory.com article confirms Shurtleff’s claim: “The Utah attorney general’s office has been actively sorting out, prosecuting, and fining lenders who refuse to do business on an even playing field…. Companies [that] have not been diligent about enforcing rules such as the APR quote guideline have been sued for more than a billion dollars over the past five years.”

Meanwhile, as Shurtleff charged, Bennett did support Fannie and Freddie, and was criticized for a possible conflict of interest because his son is deputy director of Fannie’s Partnership Office in Utah.

Another Shurtleff criticism of Bennett was “Bennett Care,” the senator’s Health Care America plan that has been considered a compromise between the Left and the Right to help the poorest Americans. But Shurtleff rejects such measures. “Can we afford as a government to give every person health care?” he argued. “No, we cannot.”

Rather than reverting to “socialism” in health care, Shurtleff prefers a private sector solution, because government should be the “last result.” He advocates “incentivizing, tax-deducting, and tackling the high cost of malpractice insurance by making it harder for people to get outrageous amounts of money suing for punitive damages.”

Also, to deal with shrinking budgets, Shurtleff wants to cut programs “not authorized by the constitution,” naming the IRS and the federal Department of Education specifically. Ridding these programs of ineffective bureaucracy is the plan, but is this what will really end up taking the blow? Utah ranks at the bottom of the 2009 Quality Counts report, at 49 out of the 50 states for educational spending per student. What is left to cut?

Although out of the Senate race, at least for 2010, Shurtleff still argues for “taking back America,” meaning “small government and going back to the Constitution.” It is not a conversation that ended either with the attorney general’s withdrawal from the 2010 GOP primary, or that is likely to be concluded regardless of whether Bob Bennett is returned to the Senate for a fourth term next fall.

“We have to balance budget,” Shurtleff says. “The feds have to do this.”


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  1. 2 Responses to “Bob Bennett a ‘Socialist’? Shurtleff on ‘taking back America’”

  2. By Mark Evans on Nov 26, 2009

    Sounds like this Storee Powell is a liberal freak.

  3. By Mark Evans on Nov 26, 2009

    everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that us unless you’re a conservative with an opinion.

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