Utah Republicans cautiously back Obama plan
Merger • Plan to cut — sound budgeting or just smart politics?
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sen. Orrin Hatch is convinced President Barack Obama's call for greater authority to consolidate federal agencies is a political move in an election year meant to show voters that he is serious about the national debt.

But that doesn't mean Hatch isn't willing to support a plan to wrap six commerce-related agencies into one, reducing the federal workforce and saving cash.

"It sounds good," said Hatch, hesitant to promise his support until he sees the details of the president's plan. "He is certainly going to have cooperation and help from me if he approaches it in the right way."

The general reaction from Republicans has been cautious support, and that's exactly how Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, reacted to Obama's announcement.

"On the surface, it looks positive," he said. "If he is trying to consolidate departments and create efficiencies, I'll support him."

The president wants Congress to give him fast-track consolidation authority, last held by President Ronald Reagan, which will allow him to propose a reorganization of the federal government that Congress would have 90 days to vote on. The president said his first consolidation would be six agencies in the Commerce department that impact small businesses from their creation to their trade with foreign nations.

"With the authority that I'm requesting today, we could consolidate them all into one department, with one website, one phone number, one mission — helping American businesses succeed," Obama said. "That's a big idea."

mcanham@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mattcanham