Predictions by Utah political insiders on what President Barack Obama's second term may bring.
'With the tax issue off the table and out of the president's hands, we can nowfocus on the No. 1 issue I hear about from Utahns. But the president needs to come to the table and be ready to make some hard decisions about where we can cut spending. Infact, Fitch Ratings just announced that in order for the United States to maintain a solid credit rating, we need to get moving on a credible deficit-reduction plan.'Unfortunately, wejust have not seen that leadership from the president in his first term. I've always been an optimist, so at the beginning of the president's second term, I hope he gets in the game and starts working in a bipartisan fashion to reform Washington and get spending under control just like Utah families do... every day.' - SEN. ORRIN HATCH 'I hope... the president and Congress can learn actually how to get along and work together on solutions to the really significant and critical challenges that arefacing our country. That's what I hope will happen. If history is [any] indication, it won't..., unfortunately.' - BECKY LOCKHART, Utah House speaker
'It will be surprising how much progress is made on budget sensibility. I predict the death knell of the pathetic Washington tradition of dealing with the budget deficit through obstruction and politicians playing to their political base.It is no longer acceptable that a D.C. budget 'compromise' is more spending and more tax cuts, and then punting the difficult decisions to afuture date or afuture Congress.'The Obama administration and Congress will finally begin to deal with the stark reality of an impending economic disaster. The administration will grudgingly accept serious changes in entitlements, and the GOP will swallow defense cuts and tax increases putting the U.S. economy in a position to soar.' - JIM DABAKIS Democratic Salt Lake City senator elect and Utah Democratic Party chairman 'I anticipate increased contention over the implementation of the Affordable CareAct. The ongoing heated battle between conservatives and progressives willfocus on two main arenas: health exchanges and Medicaid. The administration will continue topur sue aggressive health exchange implementation goals, coupled with aggressive deadlines. But the President and [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius must provide states maximum exchange flexibility if they want any measure of success. Make no mistake other states are watching Utah, Idaho, New Mexico and Nevada as we try to develop workable solutions, consistent with conservative principles.If we succeed, other states may decide to shift from federal to state-based exchanges.' - GARY HERBERT, Utah governor 'Throughout President Obama's first term in office, Salt Lake City and other U.S. municipalities have had unprecedented access to, and communication with, the White House. As thepresident takes the oath of office for his second term, we lookforward to a continued close connection. We have great confidence that the president will continue to lead us to afull economic recovery and hope that a Congress that continues to be divided by ideology can find productive, common ground in the name of moving this nation, and our community, forward together.'- RALPH BECKER, Salt Lake City mayor
'I predict that Jim Matheson is going to invite President Obama to go shooting with him and the president is going to shoot an AR-15, and he's going to say, 'These guns are so fun, everyone should own one, and he'll mandate that every citizen own one.'In reality, I'll tell you that I'm fearful that the president more than anything he'll try to do on gun control will turn us into a nation of snitches. He's already asking us to turn in our neighbors, not just about guns but everything.... When we become a nation of snitches, we're no longer the United States, we're divided.'- JANALEE TOBIAS, Gun rights activist
'Based on comments from specialinterest groups, Democrats in Congress, and others in the administration, Ifear [the Obama team] will make afull-court press to lock up morefederal land. This would include the use of the Antiquities Act. While there will be a new secretary at the Department of the Interior, I'm concerned that there will continue to be a blatant effort to limit certain types of energy, whilepromoting others.... I would hope that this attitude and agenda change during the president's second term. One thing I think we are likely to see is the president's use ofexecutive orders tofulfill his agenda over the next four years. He seems tofavor this approach in lieu of working with the House and Senate.'- REP. ROB BISHOP, Utah Republican
'President Obama will... establish a lasting legacy of public lands protection in Utah's Greater Canyonlands region. Citizens from across the nation have called on the president and his administration to take bold action to protect this truly Western landscape from a host of threats, including off-road-vehicle abuse and energy and mineral development. The president's actions to protect thisplacefor current and future generations ivillbe lauded as visionary, just as history has viewed every decision to protect public lands in Utah. We also predict that thepresident will reject Utah's misguided efforts to 'take back'public lands from the public ... to open them up to development and sale to private owners.'- STEVE BLOCH, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance counsel
'The nextfour years will be a mixed bagfor low-income Americans.On the positive side, millions of poor and workingpoor Americans will either be enrolled in Medicaid or receive a refundable tax credit to purchase private insurance.This will fill the biggest gap in our nation's safety net and literally save thousands of lives each year.On the negative side, President Obama and Congress are both proposing cuts to other programs low-incomepeople currently rely on. If the economy continues to improve, then lesspeople will need thoseprograms and so most lowincome Utahns and Americans willprobably feel like they came out ahead. On the other hand, if the economy worsens, then the next four years will be very tough.' - BILL TIBBITTS, Crossroads Urban Center associate director