Orrin Hatch: I may have made a mistake in voting for TARP

When an audience member questioned Orrin Hatch’s conservative principles because he voted for the 2008 TARP bailout, the Republican senator from Utah said he may have made a mistake with that vote. Hatch was sitting on a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) panel on whether there should be a constitutional amendment to force a balanced budget, and defended his decision as one made under pressure.

“Under the circumstances at that time, we were going down,” Hatch said. “Let me tell you, we were going down. The secretary of the treasury said this is what had to be done.”

Hatch said there were a lot of changes to the bill that he didn’t want. But he said he voted for it because he thought it was the right thing to do at the time.

“Not a lot of people are willing to say they’re sorry,” Hatch said. “But I will.”

The panel’s moderator, Lew Uhler of the National Tax Limitation Committee, reacted harshly against the audience member who asked the question, saying conservatives need to disagree with “civility.”

“I’ve fought in the trenches with this man,” Uhler said. “Nobody is more committed to conservative principles than this man, Orrin Hatch, the senior senator from Utah.”

Hatch mentioned that every time a balanced budget amendment has been brought up in the Congress since he’s been in office, it’s been by him, until now.

“I’m so pleased there are so many senators coming up with their own versions,” Hatch said.