Shadegg: Healthcare reform not the problem, just the timing of it

The Democrats' push to overhaul the nation's healthcare system was commendable but poorly timed, a leading House Republican charged this week.

"The American people are happy to have healthcare reform, but not when the economy is tanking," Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Shadegg said that Democrats, faced with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, should have prioritized job creation instead of spending months debating the healthcare bill.

"They should have said, 'Look, hold it. We'd like to do healthcare reform, but now is not the time. We've got to get America back to work. We've got to solve this economic crisis,'" he said.

"Instead, they said, 'We've made up our mind, we're doing cap-and- trade' — the American people weren't focused on that. 

"Then [they said], 'We made up our mind, we're doing healthcare reform' — the American people were opposed to it. And they just forged ahead. You cannot ignore the American people, and you cannot break your promises."

The decision to pursue healthcare reform, he added, "was simply a dogmatic, ideological agenda, pushed largely … by Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama."

Not that Congress has been idle on the economy during the downturn. Faced with the potential collapse of the banking system, the Bush administration bailed out Wall Street to the tune of $900 billion — a move widely credited with stabilizing the nation's finance system. 

Four months later, as unemployment rates were still skyrocketing, the Obama White House passed its $787 billion economic stimulus bill. In August, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill created between 1.4 and 3.3 million jobs in the second quarter of 2010. 

Shadegg voted in favor of the Wall Street bailout, but opposed the stimulus bill. On Wednesday, he said the latter should have focused more heavily on infrastructure spending. 

"Infrastructure was 2 percent to 3 percent of the bill," he said. "And the reason for that is Obama didn't come in and say, 'Look, we need to write a stimulus bill with a lot of infrastructure in it.' "