Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Which side of the shutdown mess gets most of the blame?

Published: Sunday, Oct. 6 2013 12:00 p.m. MDT

Pignanelli: Leftist Democrats will harp on Jim Matheson for his pragmatic support of the House resolution. Sen. Mike Lee is a perfect example of what challenges the GOP faces. While I abhor the stall of legislative process, Lee is acting out of deep personal convictions beyond tea party nonsense the loonies are screeching. His well-written ebook “Why John Roberts Was Wrong About Healthcare: A Conservative Critique of The Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling” articulates these concerns. For whatever reason, Lee is not elucidating what I believe he feels: Chief Justice Roberts was more worried about his legacy than constitutional principles by performing an atrocious act of judicial activism to keep the ACA alive. But Lee’s public remarks do not reveal this thought process, so his arguments are dismissed as right-wing tripe. Many lawmakers share Lee’s deep passionate intellectual offense to the expansion of government through Obamacare, but are delivering a message that sounds partisan and petty — incurring the wrath of serious Republican business leaders.

Webb: As I’ve previously written, we have an interesting habit of thinking Congress, as an institution, is a disaster. But we like our own members. The danger for Utah’s congressmen, especially Sen. Lee, is that mainstream voters will decide they’re part of the problem and look for alternatives. A lot of Utahns, including many business and community leaders, are upset at Lee. He could face a robust intra-party challenge. Utah is a conservative state, but it isn’t Texas or the deep South. In the minds of many voters, Lee is flirting on the fringes of extremism. Utahns don’t like extremists.

Is continued federal government dysfunction inevitable?

Pignanelli: Political experts explain the partisan configurations for House seats, along with extremist influence on Senators, offers little hope for mainstream action in the near future.

Webb: It is utterly insane that the leaders of the greatest country in the world can’t lead, can’t govern, can’t provide simple stability and predictability so businesses can invest and jobs can be created. The economy wants to take off. Never have business and economic opportunities been so great. But we suffer a crisis of governance, creating great uncertainty, and it’s not going to end any time soon.

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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