Arizona Congressman John Shadegg tentatively declared against “the deal” on today’s show. He still doesn’t have a copy of it, and so reserved the right to change his mind after reading it.
Like John Shimkus earlier today, Shadegg cannot square “the deal” with The Pledge to America. Here is the transcript.
HH: My trial lawyer law partners tell me never ask a question that you don’t know the answer to. I do not know how Congressman John Shadegg, great conservative from Arizona, is going to answer my questions. Congressman, it’s great to talk to you, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JS: Thank you, glad to be with you, and I’ll bet you do know how I’m going to answer your questions.
HH: Oh, I have a guess, but you tell me. Are you going to vote for the deal?
JS: I am not.
HH: Oh, yes, I am so glad to hear that. Tell me why not.
JS: Well, my caveat is I would like to read it once it’s passed the Senate, and look at the pork in it. So when I say I’m not, I’m saying I’m not with the caveat that I need to be able to finally read the text of the bill as it cleared the Senate. But it’s difficult for me to imagine anything in the text of the bill changing my view on it. And the bottom line, Hugh, is I think America just went through an extraordinary period where we had a president and a Congress who cavalierly, even at some occasions calculatingly ignored the public will, and just said we don’t quite frankly give a damn what the people think. We know what’s better for them, and we’re going to vote the way we feel. This bill breaks, as near as I can tell, the essence of the promises that Republicans made in the 2010 election. We said that we thought we ought to stop spending. The American people said to us loudly, clearly, directly, plainly, stop spending. The American people said they have had to tighten their belts. They are all living on less. And they’re sick of a government that doesn’t get that message. This bill has, you pick your number, I guess total spending, $900 billion dollars? It continues some things that I think are absolutely indefensible, specifically, for example, continued subsidies for windmills. It continues much of the tax breaks that were in the President, President Obama’s original stimulus bill. I just don’t think you can justify continuing to spend the way this bill spends, when the American people are saying stop. And quite frankly, if you look at what’s happening in, or what happened in Greece and Ireland, and what is happening in Spain and Portugal, and perhaps Italy, and you simply cannot defend continuing to spend money that you don’t have.
HH: Now Congressman Shadegg, I understand from your comments then, you still don’t have a copy of the bill.
JS: I do not.
HH: Then how…I think the Pledge…John Shimkus was on last hour, and your colleague admitted, “The Pledge is a governing document,” for now. I mean, it’s applicable. The Pledge To America is applicable to this Congress, and he admitted at much, he acknowledged as much. That Pledge says the Republicans will read the bills they vote on. And yet I hear this is scheduled for a vote tomorrow. How could that possibly be?
JS: Well, you tell me. I don’t know. I’m trying to get a copy of it right now. I’m trying to find out…I’m even actually trying to find out how long it is in the version that passed the Senate. I don’t know what pork was stuck in at the last moment in the process of clearing the Senate. Whether or not, Hugh, it is voted on tomorrow night, I think, depends upon kind of whether leadership, in this case, it means both Republican and Democrat leadership, can cobble together the votes to pass it, and also whether Democrat leadership can cobble together the face-saving amendments that leftists in the Congress will want to vote upon, to try to defeat the things in it they don’t like. For example, they don’t like the fact that it reenacts the death tax, but not at the rate that they would like to see, which is 55%. It instead reenacts the death tax at 35%. And so right now, I think it’s unclear. I’m inclined to believe that it will not be voted upon until Thursday. But one way or the other, your point is well taken. Republicans pledged in their Pledge To America not to vote on these measures until they’d read them. Indeed, I believe this bill was being whipped before members had any hope to have read it.
HH: There’s also, John Shadegg, in the Pledge on Page 16, it says permanently stop all job-killing tax hikes, permanently. On Page 21, it says act immediately to reduce spending. On Page 21, it says cut government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels. On Page 33, it says read the bill, and on Page 33, it says advance legislative issues one at a time. You know, and are friends with John Boehner and Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy. You know that they got behind this Pledge. How are they going to defend this to the Tea Party and the grass roots? It is so palpably at odds with what they said they’d do.
JS: I don’t know the answer to that question. Here’s what I do know. If Republicans were doing substantively what the American people wanted them to do, for example, if in this compromise we had agreed, we had negotiated that the additional spending for any pieces of it were to be paid for out of, for example, the unemployment benefit extension, if we were to say look, we don’t like that, we don’t think it really encourages people to work, indeed we think it encourages people not to work, and there’s evidence to prove that, but we’ll vote for it because it’s going to be paid for. Had they negotiated a pay-for on that provision, then I think the Americans, Tea Party or not, who said stop the spending, would cut the Republican leaders some slack on some of the details. But in this instance, the fundamental message of the election was stop the excess spending. We’re sick of a government growing out of control. I think Charles Krauthammer called this bill the swindle of the year, because quite frankly, he looks at it and says it is fundamentally a stimulus bill, which if Obama had proposed as a stimulus bill, Republicans would have had to have run out of the room.
HH: I agree with that, but what I really…has there been any conversation yet…on the substance it’s a terrible bill, but on the politics, it’s disastrous. I mean, it really is forfeiting the goodwill and the Pledge, and everything that was built up. I know you’re retiring, but you’re not retiring from the field.
JS: I’m not retiring from the field.
HH: You’re just retiring from Congress. And so I mean, this is a burden on everyone who is standing around when it passes.
JS: I mean, Hugh, I think you’re doing a great service to point this out, because quite frankly, this is a case study in what is going to confront the freshmen Republicans when they arrive in Washington. I think many freshmen Republicans are standing back across America, I believe the three freshmen Republicans from Arizona are sitting back and saying this is a bad deal. But if they were there, which they will be in thirty more days, they would be coming under intense pressure to go along with this deal, because in Washington, if you want to advance your career, you need to learn to go along to get along. And yet if they break their promises, the way it appears the current sitting Republicans are going to break their promises yet one more time, then I think they’re going to get bounced out on their ears. And I think bad substance is bad politics, but I also think this is fundamentally keep your promises.
End of interview.