Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: What the fiscal cliff tells us about America, its problems

Published: Sunday, Jan. 6 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Pignanelli: Well, LaVarr's unfortunate responses in this column (partisan finger-pointing, revisionist history, etc.) are indicative of the strangulation in our system. Every American — Republican, Democrat and Independent — has benefited from federal largess. Our elected officials are only responding to their constituents to protect what they are receiving-a natural instinct. Democracies — especially ours — were built to be dysfunctional to defend against government overreach. When a majority of our society agrees to the necessary structural changes in the federal government as articulated by thoughtful leaders, Congress will respond. (Also, Romney lost because he was a flawed candidate who was just as vague as Obama on resolving fiscal issues.)

What does the "fiscal cliff" agreement mean for Utah?

Pignanelli: Our state budget will continue to receive portions of the federal bounty — staving off tough decisions. Because the last-minute compromise prevented potential damage to the economy, the attacks from the far-right will dissipate against Sen. Orrin Hatch. His "yes" vote will provide even greater opportunities for him to be a real player in the tougher discussions to reduce federal expenditures. Thus, the Utah approach to health care reform and efficient government services will be on the national stage.

Webb: Expected federal funding will continue to flow to Utah. However, given the nation's fiscal mess, the federal money can't continue forever, so Utah must prepare for less federal money. The state is positioned to do so if we can get control of our vast energy resources and develop them.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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