Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called out the Heritage Foundation during an appearance on MSNBC Thursday morning, arguing that the think tank is losing its “reputation” under the leadership of former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Since DeMint left the Senate to head-up the organization in April, Heritage has weighed into every political debate, leading the effort to undermine immigration reform, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and on Wednesday, pressured lawmakers to vote against a Senate compromise to re-open the federal government and avert default.
“Heritage used to be the conservative organization helping Republicans and helping conservatives and helping us to be able to have the best intellectual conservative ideas,” Hatch told host Chuck Todd in response to a question about conservatives:
There is a real question in the minds of many Republicans now and I’m not just speaking for myself, for a lot of people, is Heritage going to go so political that it really doesn’t amount to anything anymore?… Right now, I think it’s in danger of losing its clout and its power around Washington D.C.
Indeed, one such “intellectual conservative idea” developed by Heritage was the individual health care mandate, which the think tank introduced in 1989, Republicans embraced in the 1990s as an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s health care proposal, and Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts in 2006.
Since DeMint became president of Heritage, however, the organization has suffered numerous setbacks including the very public resignation of Jason Richwine, a coauthor of the Heritage Foundation’s report on the cost of immigration reform after it emerged that his graduate dissertation on immigration was premised on the idea that Latinos were less intelligent than whites.