An Interview With Congressman John Shadegg
Late last week, Right Wing News was pleased to have the opportunity to interview Congressman John Shadegg. What follows is a slightly edited transcript of that interview.
All right, to begin with, if someone said to you, “Congressman, I have trouble following everything that’s going on with this healthcare debate — but what does it really mean for healthcare in this country if this bill passes, if it goes through Congress?” What would you say to him?
…In Canada where they have a single payer government run system they ration care, people wait in very long lines….and in England they ration healthcare through what is called the “NICE Board.” The “NICE Board” is a board empowered to say who gets what care and what that really means is that in some instances they’ll say, well, if you’re young enough that it makes economic sense to provide you an expensive treatment, we’ll do it — but if you’re too old, we’ll deny you that treatment — and so they ration it that way. One of the things that came out as we were preparing was that the “NICE Board,” for example, in England has decided that if you have what’s called macular degeneration, that is you’re losing your sight, the drug to treat it is very, very expensive so the “NICE Board” has decided that they won’t give you that drug until you have already lost sight in one eye because, what the heck, you don’t need two.
So I think government run healthcare would be much worse than what we have today. At least today you have a chance to go to your employer and say, “Look, let’s get a better plan” or you can go around your employer and buy it on your own. The problem with that is that your employer gets to buy it with pre-tax dollars. If you want to buy it on your own, you have to buy it with after tax dollars and, of course, any American knows that means it costs at least a third more.
..You didn’t ask about what the right reform is, but I think one of the key reforms we could be doing — and unfortunately we’re not doing in the bill the Democrats want to push through — is just saying to every individual American you can either keep your employer sponsored care if you have it and you like it or you can buy a healthcare plan with pre-tax dollars and get treated under the tax code the same way we treat America’s corporations and businesses.
For awhile now, there have been a lot of Americans who have a sense that there’s a lot of corruption in Congress — that you have a lot of donors who are putting money in on one end of the Congress and then the Congressmen see to it that they get all that money back in contracts or earmarks. I’m not going to ask you to name names, point fingers or anything like that — but do you think that the people who feel that way are off the mark?
No, I don’t. I think that and I am saddened by it. I have been upset about it and have tried to do as much as I can to fight it. It’s pretty clear that at least some members of Congress are involved in a scheme pretty much like what you described, particularly in the area of earmarks. That is to say that there are members of Congress who will agree to put in a request for an earmark, often for a no-bid contract to a company in their district. They will do it at the request of a lobbying firm where they have former staffers that work for that lobbying firm — and the earmark is requested, the earmark is rewarded, and it goes to this company.
Lots of times the companies have no expertise, but then you discover that the executives of that company contribute very heavily to that member of Congress and/or the lobbyist firm and its employees donate very heavily to that member of Congress. That’s kind of the basic structure. It’s well known. There is a scandal going on right now where there is an organization called PMA, which is a lobbying firm that has now gone out of business, where exactly that model has been followed.
…I am highly offended by it and I am offended that the Justice Department, while it has a number of these instances under investigation, is proceeding at a snail’s pace and not bringing the facts forward.
Slowly but surely they’re coming out. If you google “PMA” or if you google “kickback schemes” or “earmark schemes” you will find a lot of stories that suggest what you described is in fact going on in the United States Congress today and it’s tragic. The American people are owed better than that.
Many conservatives are deeply concerned about the amount of debt our country is running up, the growing size of government and the government takeovers of private industry. Many of us, myself included, think the country literally cannot continue to be a superpower or even prosperous in the coming years unless we start making some pretty dramatic changes to the way we’re doing business.
I would put myself in that category. I agree with all of that. I don’t know the numbers as well as some of my colleagues. …We are spending money that not only do we not have and our children not have, we are now spending money that our grandchildren will have to repay. But, I think the point you made that I have not heard until the last few months is a valid one: that is, we’re spending beyond our ability to borrow, which means we’re crippling our ability to be a superpower.
If we, in fact, are deeply, deeply, deeply in debt, for example to countries who are pretty much our avowed enemies, communist China being the easiest example, I think that places us in a compromised position.
Last question for you: you’re a co-sponsor of a bill to audit the Federal Reserve. There seems to be a lot of support, but the Democratic leadership keeps blocking it. What do you think their reasoning is? Why would anyone even want to block a bill to audit the Fed?
Well, if you believe in big government and you believe that there is nothing the government can’t accomplish if it’s given enough money, you would not welcome that kind of audit — and I believe that’s pretty much what’s behind the opposition to that kind of an audit. At some point, America is going to have to pay the piper. At some point we’re going to have to wake up and recognize the unsustainability of that spending and I think that piece of legislation might well lead to the conclusion that we cannot continue to spend at the levels we’re spending or commit ourselves to the level we’re committing ourselves. If you want to expand government, then that’s not something you want publicly known.
So you think if they audited the Fed they’d find that we just can’t continue doing this? That we just don’t have the money to do it?
Well, I think that’s obvious without auditing the Fed. I think it would be additional evidence.
Right, right, I agree with you. Mr. Shadegg, I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Great, my pleasure.