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Utah politicians weigh in on progress of Obama's health care plan



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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Six months into his administration, President Obama has pushed through a $787 dollar stimulus package, bailed out Wall Street and the auto industry, and killed a major defense program.

Now, with huge plans to overhaul the American health care system, he could be near a defining moment, and Utah's Republicans in Washington are growing more skittish.

"There is a growing concern that the president has overreached, that he's trying to slam too many things in too quickly -- from cap and trade, to stimulus, to health," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

With the overhaul, the president could shape the rest of his presidency and his relationship with Congress. Sen. Robert Bennett says it will make a big difference whether the president slows down and becomes open to other ideas or chooses to takes a hard line.

"You're right that there are serious problems. Let us solve your problems. But up ‘till now, he's not been willing to let us in," Bennett said.

But Utah Democratic Party Chair Wayne Holland says the president deserves credit for taking issues on.

"It's clear that there are republican leaders who want nothing more right now than to kill it. It isn't about getting it right. They want to kill it," Holland said.

Still, the president took office promising a more bipartisan tone in Washington, which so far hasn't happened. Sen. Orrin Hatch says over the next few weeks he'll have a chance to show Americans how far he's willing to go.

"I've suggested that if he wants that kind of health care reform he's talking about, he's going to have to roll up his sleeves, get in the trenches and start fighting for it," Hatch said.

More and more people from both parties are watching to see how hard the president is willing to push his agenda going forward. Even more conservative Democrats, like Blue Dog Jim Matheson, are pushing back on things like cap and trade and health care reform.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

Richard Piatt

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