SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday pointed to a lack of leadership by President Barack Obama as the source of the partial federal government shutdown, which is putting a pinch on Utah's economy.
Herbert opposes Obama's health care overhaul, which is the flashpoint for the impasse in Washington, D.C., but the Republican-led tactic to derail the law "doesn't seem to be working so far," the governor said at his monthly televised news conference.
Herbert, a Republican, didn't answer specific questions about whether he supports the effort by Utah Sen. Mike Lee and other Republicans in Congress to defund the health care law in exchange for funding the rest of the government.
"I think he's doing what he feels is best," Herbert said to reporters following the news conference.
Lee is representing his constituents, Herbert said, and the issue he and other Republicans in Congress have raised is "legitimate."
Herbert repeatedly said he holds Obama responsible for the shutdown because he failed to force a compromise on the issue.
"He can't just get out there and blame Republicans for all the problems," Herbert said.
The governor said both parties can be blamed for playing politics with the issue. He said it's unfortunate the debate over the health care law has spilled over and is affecting other areas of government with the shutdown.
Utah's five national parks all have been shuttered, which Herbert said is jeopardizing about 10 percent of the state's tourism revenues for October.
"It is kind of silly to some of us that we're even closing down these areas that people just drive through or walk through," Herbert said.
There are about 40,000 federal employees in Utah, about 10,000 of whom are facing furloughs, which will also have a ripple effect on the state's economy, he said.
Some Republicans say the fight in Washington might hurt in the short term but be beneficial in the long term. But Herbert said he couldn't predict if that would be the case.
The country cannot afford the health law, so there needs to be a debate, and that debate has to be tied to federal funding issues, Herbert said.
The governor wouldn't say if the current tactic should continue, particularly with a looming mid-October deadline to raise the federal government's borrowing limit.
"It's got to be addressed in some form, in some way," Herbert said. "Because what we have not is not working."