Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Obama, Lockhart and Herbert: A tale of three speeches

Published: Sunday, Feb. 2 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

Certainly, Lockhart is only one of 104 lawmakers and her style isn’t to dictate to that group. But a speaker can have a vision and propose big ideas. Mobilizing her fellow legislators is what leadership is all about.

Did Herbert recapture session momentum with his speech Wednesday night?

Pignanelli: The governor exuded the aura of an energetic statesman, articulating Utah’s achievements while seeking to be inclusive. He conveyed strength and confidence (gentle digs to the Speaker were noted). He drew battle lines with Lockhart over Medicaid expansion — which now promises to be an even more interesting tug-of-war.

Webb: It was one of Herbert’s better speeches. He was both relaxed and animated while still stumbling a bit with the teleprompter. Neither Herbert nor Lockhart proposed really exciting initiatives on the big issues. Neither proposed a big education investment or bold education reform like school choice. They didn’t say they would lead other state leaders to form a constitutional convention to restore balance in the federal system. They didn’t propose to double transit ridership in the next five years to combat air pollution.

I like politicians who have big ideas, while recognizing that most progress in public policy comes incrementally.

Did President Obama’s speech make it more or less likely that Congress and the president will successfully address the country’s major problems in 2014?

Pignanelli: Even GOP strident activists acknowledge that president Obama delivered a well-crafted optimistic presentation. While Republicans will grumble about his executive actions, he did set the stage for bipartisan solutions to immigration, trade and tax reform.

Webb: It’s Sunday, and likely no one remembers Obama’s very forgettable speech Tuesday evening. Obama made me thankful for the much-maligned House of Representatives, which has been able to stop cold most of Obama’s big tax increases and government expansion programs. I’m glad citizens, led by the tea party, rose up in 2010 and gave control of the House to conservative Republicans. We certainly need more compromise and less gridlock, but I’d rather have gridlock than Obama and a Democratic Congress forcing massive liberal programs onto the country.

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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