Based on his 2009 record, John Shadegg of Arizona is tied with five other Republicans as the most conservative member of the House.
Yesterday morning, being interviewed on MSNBC by David Shuster, Shadegg ended up making a statement that would put him to the left of many Congressional Democrats: that he would support a single payer system:
Speaking with host David Shuster after an announcement by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a progressive who advocates single-payer, that he would vote for health care, Shadegg argued that Democrats only got Kucinich’s vote by “breaking arms.” He suggested Kucinich wouldn’t readily vote for the bill because it rewards insurance companies.
“The reality is, this bill is going to reward for-profit insurance companies that have done a disservice,” Shadegg said. “This bill is going to give them exactly what they wanted. The insurance industry, the for-profit insurance industry, wanted an individual mandate and that’s what they’re getting out of this bill. The for-profit insurance industry did not want a public option because they don’t like competition and guess what? They’re getting that.”
When Shuster accused Republicans of supporting insurers, Shadegg balked.
“No we don’t! You guys keep saying that, but I’m not the guy pushing the bill that says we should compel people to buy insurance from the for-profit guys. That’s the Democrats,” he said.
Then, after some back and forth with Shuster: “I would support single-payer.”
“You would support a government-run medical system?” Shuster asked.
“Absolutely,” Shadegg said. “I would support forcing American insurance companies to compete. Right now they have a monopoly.”
Now that’s a slightly confusing statement there at the end. Under a single-payer system, all healthcare would be provided by the government. If you will, we would all be covered by Medicare. There would be no private insurance companies competing for our business.
There were clear grounds for believing that Shadegg had just blurted out something without even understanding what he was saying, let alone meaning what he said. But, on the other hand, “You would support a government-run medical system?” could very well refer to the public option, and then Shadegg’s response would make perfect sense. Except that he is tied for the most conservative member of the House. So how could he possibly mean what he had just said?
Not surprisingly, TPM LiveWire‘s lede for the story was:
In a striking interview on MSNBC this morning, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) made, perhaps unintentionally, a strong case for a single-payer health care system.
But, naturally, they put in a request for clarification to Shadegg’s office. And pulled out this very surprising plum:
His spokeswoman, Nicole Philbin, emailed over a statement that confirms Shadegg would indeed support a public option.
“Congressman Shadegg believes health insurance companies should have to compete for our business as individual consumers,” she said. “Forcing them to compete, even through a public option, would be better than an individual mandate which will not work.”
So maybe he doesn’t actually back a single-payer system, but he does support a public option. That still puts him to the left of many Congressional Democrats.
But here’s the beauty of the whole thing. Five will get you ten that he still won’t be voting for healthcare reform. The irony is that Shadegg was on MSNBC commenting on Kucinich’s surprise announcement yesterday. And, if he is to be believed, Shadegg has essentially picked up for recycling the attitude that Kucinich discarded yesterday. He’ll vote against the healthcare reform bill because it isn’t liberal enough for him.