This is going to be a bit of a wordy blog post, so I’ll summarize at the top: Utah delegate selection is Thursday, March 15th, 2012. The delegate selection process is the best way to get Dan Liljenquist, a candidate I am very excited about, elected to US Senate. If you’re in Utah, please consider making time to attend your caucus and either run for delegate or select a delegate for Dan. You can find your neighborhood caucus at the Utah GOP website
Because I live in Utah and because we have a candidate selection coming up and because that selection involves Orrin Hatch, I wanted to say something.
First of all, I don’t think Orrin Hatch has been a particularly bad Senator for the state of Utah. He’s been a fairly reliable vote for the right and, from what I hear, he’s a decent sort of guy. I have a “thing” against career politicians and, at 36 years, I think Senator Hatch meets that definition, but I’m not on a mission to take the guy down.
For me, the “Hatch election” has nothing to do with Orrin Hatch. It has everything to do with Dan Liljenquist.
I met Dan back in 2010, long before he decided to run for Senate. Holly Richardson, a Twitter friend, introduced us with a view toward taking some of Dan’s work and turning into visuals or videos that he could use for presentations. It was then that I learned about Dan’s incredible political career which, at that time, was hardly even 2 years long.
Dan was elected in 2008 and asked to be placed “where the money is”, so he got dumped into the “Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations” committee, which was about as boring a place as possible. Except that “retirement” meant pensions and the Utah pension fund was (like nearly all pension funds) a heavily invested fund. Which means when the stock market collapsed in 2008-2009, so did our pension fund.
This wasn’t just “a problem”. This was a life changing, program ending, budget apocalypse type of problem. And Dan got to deal with it. Whee.
But what happened next was remarkable. Dan started with the concept “We will keep the promises we’ve already made to our retirees”. This is important to me because, although it seems like a lot of conservatives are fine with hanging people out to dry, people have lived their lives based on these promises. Maybe some retirees can manage, but for others, their pension is all they have. They’re not about to go start a new career to pick up some extra cash. Dan made it a priority to see that the promises made were kept.
Then, he did an exhaustive study of our pension system. He discovered that there were a number of loopholes including “double dipping” (where someone retires early, takes a 6 month break and can then be re-hired, usually at a similar salary) in our pension process and that the defined benefit program was simply unsustainable. His reforms (which were passed with bi-partisan support) saved the Utah state retirement system and most of our budget.
This was the work I was going to try to help visualize (before life got in the way, as it does) because the Utah plan had been so successful, Dan was being invited to mentor other states on how to save their pension systems.
It is this kind of fiscal reform that Dan is passionate about. When we spoke, it was like talking to my wonkiest friends about where the “real” problems are in federal finance, what kinds of reforms can actually be made and take hold without hanging those who genuinely need the program out to dry. Dan has a passion for fiscal reform and sustainability. In that way, I believe Dan Liljenquist could be a Paul Ryan for the US Senate.
This is why I support Dan Liljenquist over Orrin Hatch. I hate that politics makes us bash one to elect the other (and I haven’t been very happy with the Hatch campaign’s attacks on Dan), but there it is.
The easiest way to elect Dan Liljenquist is through the delegate selection process. Utah has neighborhood caucuses on Thursday, March 15th (you can find where yours will be held here). There, caucus attendees will select delegates for the state convention. At the convention, these delegates will vote to select primary nominees. Dan needs delegates to vote for him in order to run for Senate. If you live in Utah, please attend the caucus to vote for (or be) a Dan Liljenquist delegate.