Dan Liljenquist visited Morgan this week. Liljenquist is running for the U.S. Senate seat opposing Orrin Hatch for the Republican nomination. Liljenquist is hoping for a repeat of what happened to Bob Bennett when he was replaced at the Republican convention with Mike Lee in 2010.
Liljenquist is a graduate of BYU with a law degree from the University of Chicago. He worked at Bain capital and other firms and then retuned to Utah to lead Focus Services, an inbound call center. He and his wife have six children.
Liljenquist was elected to the Utah Senate in 2008. During his tenure in the senate Liljenquist was one of the leaders who helped tackle problems with the state pension fund and Medicare. “My time in the legislature, we have done some pretty remarkable things. We are the first state in the country to look down the road on two big issues and solve them,” said Liljenquist.
He related how, as a freshman senator, he worked to reform the pension system in the state. After the stock market losses in 2008, the state pension systems were facing record losses. The state had to act to close the gap left by these losses. “Our bill closed down the traditional way of doing the pensions… We also ended the practice of people retiring on Friday and coming back on a Monday getting a pension and a paycheck…We also ended pensions for legislators. I wasn’t winning a lot of points for being the most popular guy around, but we had to do it. That process was ugly. We had a lot of people protesting. But we had to do it.” continued Liljenquist.
Liljenquist communicated why he is running for the senate saying, “When I was born our national debt was 475 billion dollars. It is now 15.3 trillion and we just raised the debt ceiling to 16 trillion. We are going to be here in nine months and we are going to have another debt ceiling in nine months, and again, and again. In the course of our lifetimes we have had an unprecedented shift of power to Washington D.C. We have expanded programs we couldn’t afford. We knew it at the time. Some of those even in the last decade. It has been Republicans and Democrats who have done it.” Liljenquist compared the federal budget process to the game called Hungry Hippos. “We have got to send fiscal leaders to Washington. People who are interested and determined to address entitlement reform and to address the long term structural problems we have in this country…I am going to have to live for the next forty years in this country. It’s not hypothetical to me that every time we raise the debt ceiling without having a plan to get out of it we are putting more and more burdens on our economy, more and more burdens on our people, and a whole generation of Americans who cannot even vote,” continued Liljenquist. He expressed that his experience in reforming the pension system and Medicare in Utah have given him the experience he will need in Washington.
Liljenquist expressed support for becoming self-reliant by reducing dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic production. He supports returning power to the states as designed in the constitution.
Liljenquest also talked about Senator Hatch. He said, “As a state legislator it has been very disappointing. We have almost no working relationship with our Senior Senator…It was supposed to be that the senate would represent the state and work with the legislature to make sure state’s rights were protected. Last year we passed a bill and we said, ‘Hey, we know that the seventeenth amendment is in place, we can’t tell you what to do, but come and consult with us, come and speak with us.’ Mike Lee said I understand that’s my role and Orrin Hatch said I don’t report to you. He continued, “We passed a unanimous Medicaid reform bill last year. Every Democrat, every Republican. I ran the bill. We were the first state in the country to say Federal Government, let us take over Medicaid. We will do it. We’ll cap ourselves and the cost, we’ll manage it better. We’ll be fair and we’ll provide good care, and I can’t get our Senior Senator to lift a finger…We have created a generation of politicians, of senators who have lost sight of what the role of the United States Senate is supposed to be. It’s been this generation of politicians that have shifted more power to Washington than ever before…To get this country back, the United States Senate has to return to what it was designed to be. The bulwark for state sovereignty and the shift of power back to the states. I think that’s our only hope.”
Liljenquist believes that Senator Hatch has been in Washington too long and that the state would be better served by someone who lives in Utah and who can bring a new approach. Senator Hatch has been serving since 1976 and is currently the longest serving senator in Utah history. It is interesting to note that when Senator Hatch won his race for the Senate in 1976, he called for the replacement of the incumbent Senator Moss by saying, “What do you call a senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home.” That was thirty-six year ago. More information about Dan Liljenquist can be found at http://DanforUtah.com .