SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch had choice words for people who supported the Affordable Care Act during a speech Thursday to the American Enterprise Institute.
The remarks came as the Utah Republican talked about Congress doing away with the individual mandate in that "wonderful" bill called Obamacare, noting that he was being sarcastic.
"That was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I've ever seen. Now some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I've ever met," Hatch said, eliciting some awkward laughs.
He added: "And there are a lot of them up on Capitol Hill from time to time."
The video of his speech on the impact of federal tax reform was posted on YouTube.
Later, Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock issued a statement saying, "The comments were obviously made in jest, but what’s not a joke is the harm Obamacare has caused for countless Utahns.”
Hatch said the law requiring most people to buy health insurance coverage or pay a penalty is one of the most regressive taxes in the tax code "with lower-income families paying most of the freight." He called it one of the "great ironies" of Obamacare.
In eliminating the individual mandate, the new tax law took a major step forward in the ongoing effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, he said.
Hatch, who is retiring at the end of the year, started his speech expressing appreciation for the opportunity to speak at the American Enterprise Institute, noting they have fought a lot of battles together over the years.
“Hopefully, I won’t say anything to make you regret it, then again …" he said.
Hatch, who turns 84 this month, also joked about getting a job after his seventh term in the Senate ends.
"I don't want to make this event awkward for anyone, but if any of you know who might be hiring, please put in a good word for me," he said, chuckling. "I've got a fair amount of experience, but even if it's not technically enough for a particular job, I'm a really quick learner. I'll make sure you all get a copy of my résumé."