Republican leaders in Utah were uniformly critical of Thursday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, saying it threatens the nation's economic recovery and could sharpen the partisan divide.
In his monthly news conference on KUED, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said, "This has divided the country terribly and taken our eye off the ball on economic recovery. I do believe, if you want to repeal Obamacare, you need to repeal Obama."
Senator Orrin Hatch echoed the governor's view that replacing the president is the answer to the health care controversy. "The only way to repeal the law, it seems to me, is to get Mitt Romney into the White House. And I think it's going to dawn on the American people this dog isn't gonna go unless Mitt becomes president."
Deputy Utah Attorney General John Swallow said the ruling was a victory in one sense, since the case was decided on the basis of Congress' authority to impose taxes and not as a regulation of interstate commerce. "The surprise," he said, "was that they held the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power, because they pitched it to the American people as 'not a tax.' And so we put our resources and efforts into the commerce clause analysis, which was a real critical analysis for us because we knew, that if under the commerce clause, Congress could force people into the marketplace to buy something they didn't want to buy, our liberties were gone."
Senator Mike Lee says it would be difficult to repeal the law now even if Republicans win a majority in the U.S. Senate. "I think it raises the stakes for both sides," Lee said in an interview with KUER. "I think it will tend to sharpen the debate between Republicans and Democrats. It will certainly sharpen the debate between those who think health care decisions ought to be kept closer to the individual and to the family."
In written statements, Congressman Jason Chaffetz promised to continue his efforts to repeal the law as it stands, while Congressman Rob Bishop called it a "massive tax increase on the American people."