WASHINGTON — Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) apologized today for calling Obamacare supporters dumbasses in a Thursday think-tank speech, calling his comments an “off-the-cuff” joke.
“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. That was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen,” Hatch said at the American Enterprise Institute.
“Now, some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met,” he added.
Acknowledging “there are a lot of them up there on Capitol Hill from time to time,” Hatch called it “one of the most regressive taxes in the tax code, with lower-income families paying most of the freight.”
“The individual mandate 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. 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,” the senator said.
Hatch, 83, also noted that he’s “been all over the world a number of times, by the way, and, frankly, there’s no other country that even comes close to ours.”
“Well, there might be one or two that you could say do pretty well, but they’re really not in a league with us, as dumb as we are and as stupid as some of our policies have been over the years,” he said. “But I can tell you that no other country can really compete with the United States if we allow our true entrepreneurial spirit to go forward. And I intend to see that we do that.”
Today, Hatch said in a statement that he “made a poorly worded joke about Obamacare supporters — a joke that was not reflective of my actual feelings towards my friends on the other side.”
“Throughout my term of service, I have always recognized the importance of civility, particularly in engaging with those of different political perspectives,” he added. “While I occasionally slip up, I believe that my legislative record reflects my commitment to bipartisanship and civility much more than my flippant, off-the-cuff comment.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told CNN on Thursday that he thought Hatch made the “dumbass” comment because he’s “frustrated” as “Obamacare is not perfect, but the overwhelming majority of Americans say don’t repeal it, make it better.”
“He’s usually a very polite man, but I guess he sort of lost it on that little clip you showed,” Schumer said. “But, he’s just frustrated because the American people are against what has been drummed into the head of republicans. Repeal it, repeal it, repeal it. And the damge for repealing it would’ve been so great that they couldn’t accomplish it. They’re not going to accomplish it. They ought to give up and move on. There are ways we could make Obamacare better, no question about it. That’s what we ought to do in a bipartisan way, as opposed to calling people names and using words that Orrin doesn’t typically use.”