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Frustrated Gov. Herbert asks, ‘Where’s the president?’

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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — The fiscal cliff debacle is but the latest example of the leadership void in Washington, D.C., Utah Gov. Herbert said Tuesday, the first day of the new year.

"There's just an absence, a void of leadership back in Washington,. D.C. at a very critical time in our nation's history," Herbert said.

Congressional inaction will have profound consequences, he said.

"I just hope the people in Washington understand that this is more than high-stakes poker. This does impact families and individuals. It impacts the economy. It impacts our future here in a dramatic way," Herbert said, laying blame at the foot of the president.

"Where's the President? President Obama's got to step up and say 'I will broker the deal' and grab both sides to the table and say 'You're all going to have to give up something.'"

Beyond the tax implications for individuals and the possible funding complications for state governments attempting to assemble their respective budgets, Herbert said the inaction by Congress is also problematic because of the negative signals it sends to the private sector and the stock market.

"There's estimations there's $2 trillion of capital sitting on the sidelines not willing to engage because of uncertainty. And that's coming out of Washington, D.C. It's void of leadership and again, there's probably blame to go around on all sides. In the House and in the Senate and the Senate is so dysfunctional that Mitch McConnell has had to negotiate with the vice president. He can't even negotiate with his cohort in the Senate, Harry Reid," he said.

Despite these events, Herbert said he is optimistic about Utah's economy and future, given its relatively low unemployment rate, economic growth and solid government management practices. "In fact, in comparison, we'll probably become an even more desireable place for businesses to locate because Utah will become the island of tranquility in the sea of chaos that's being created around the country, particularly emanating out of Washington, D.C."

Herbert said he hopes leaders will rise up and broker a compromise. "Compromise is not a dirty word," he said.

It is equally important to take actions that bring certainty to the marketplace, he said. "If they will do that, our future and our future in America will become brighter."

Contributing: Becky Bruce, KSL Radio

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com