Cravaack on Talk of the Nation

Newly-minted 8th District congressman Chip Cravaack was the guest on Talk of the Nation today in, presumably, one of his first national radio interviews since his election. The segment featured questions from Minnesota (likely they were listeners to Minnesota Public Radio.) There were no great surprises. Or even little surprises.

Q: Are you prepared to split from your party on occasion?

A: We’ll take each issue on its face. I’ll be representing the people of the 8th District. That’s my job.

Q: Will you be joining the Tea Party caucus?

A: I haven’t decided yet, but the Tea Party’s values are pretty much what my values are, too. I may very well join that caucus.

Q: You plan to try to repeal health care?

A: Repeal, defund, and then replace it with something more patience-centered.

Q: That will take a long time.

A: The Senate is going to be the place where this is going to play out.

Q: (Kathy from Duluth) What’s your position on reauthorization of the Clean Water Act?

A: The Clean Water Act of 1974 is in place. If you’re talking of the AQUA bill, I cannot support that. The state of Minnesota has plenty of safeguards intact that protect our waters. We live here. We’re going to protect it much more than any federal mandates or laws.

(Kathy was disappointed)

Q: (Elizabeth Scott from North Branch) What’s the reasoning for putting a half on the Northern Lights train? It’s going to create jobs.

A: We can’t afford it right now. If we can’t afford something and if it cannot sustain itself — as with other rails in Minnesota — it only creates further debt. Anything that creates further debt at this time, we cannot tolerate. (Bob notes: The obvious follow-up is the question of funding for the wars)

Q: (Matt from Finland, Minn.) What’s your exact counterproposal for health care? A lot of people up here can’t afford private insurance and while what the Democrats passed isn’t great, the thing is something is better than nothing. We have a state health program and that may get the ax?

A: For the state we have one of the best health care systems in the country. The federal program dummies down the state program. We have a great safety net for the people. On the federal level, competition has always been the key in driving down costs. I use Lasik surgery as an example. It’s never been covered under any health care insurance. Through the years, because of the competition, the accessibility has increased dramatically. The quality has increased significantly and affordability is dramatically increased. Competition is the key. Allowing us to purchase health insurance across state lines is another factor.

Q: (Follow up) We have a different set of regulations in Minnesota…

A: Why can’t you go across state lines to purchase better insurance? As a male, you shouldn’t have to purchase maternity insurance. We should also allow people to create buying pools. That creates buying power.

Q: You’re a former airline pilot at Northwest, you were a union steward. How do you go from that to a conservative member of Congress?

A: There’s a fallacy that union members are not conservative. A lot of union members are conservative.

(Bob notes: Airline pilots are quite conservative, since most come from the military)

What got me involved is the massive amount of debt that’s being transferred to our children. I could not sit idly by and watch that.

The congressman-elect was obviously heading heading out of Minnesota for the holidays, which got me to wondering how many of the new Minnesota delegation to Congress is a Minnesotan by birth. The answer: One. Betty McCollum. I’m trying to research whether that’s ever been the case before.

Update Hat tip (h/t) to Aaron J. Brown for providing the answer.

  • bsimon

    rep-elect Cravaack says

    “What got me involved is the massive amount of debt that’s being transferred to our children. I could not sit idly by and watch that.”

    Long on rhetoric, short on specifics. Its easy to get worked up about the deficit & debt. Actually finding & implementing solutions is a bit tougher.

  • BJ

    Great followup, the linked article was a good read.

    I guess my chances of winning a congressional seat are slimmer because I was born here. 🙁

  • Roman

    I get a kick out of these Republican’s, They never said anything about the debt when they were in charge. They doubled the country’s debt from 2001 to 2009, Bush had one veto his first four years and now they spun it around and blame it all on the Democrat’s. Boy, do they have great propaganda machine’s.

    The health care bill is the first legislation that helps consumers. I pay $14000 a year for a family of three, that is some peoples incomes.

    I can see this guy being for the rich and screw the middle class and poor then hide behind God to cover his behind.

  • matt


    I am glad that you know and understand what you pay for health care, most Americans have no idea because the costs are obscured via insurance, employee sponsorship etc. Therein lies the problem with the health care bill – it further hides the costs and therefore the drivers of costs. A bigger insurance program will bend the cost curve temporarily but MBA’s will win out over govt regulation everytime. Push the govt out of the way and let the people (aka the market) get to the bottom of rising costs.

  • Matt

    A bit scary here, in terms of the Representative-elect’s grasp of how health insurance works. Yes, my premiums factor in coverage for maternity coverage. I’m male. Also true that my insurance premiums factors in coverage for heart problems. I don’t have those either (and no family history). If the idea is to narrow health insurance down to me paying just for what I’ve got or might get, then it isn’t insurance.

  • Michele

    In his Lasik analogy, Chip Cravaack confuses increased competition of the delivery of health care services with increased competition in health insurance. Delivery of health care services and health insurance are two completely different things. It was depressing to even hear him atempt the analogy.

    Health care costs (exclusive of insurance) are driven by the amount of health care goods/services (surgeries, pharmaceuticals, devices, days in hospital, etc) delivered and the cost of those services. Health insurance is driven by the costs of health care plus the administrative costs and profit margins of the insurance companies.

    Increased competition between insurers would not do a thing to lower costs and could actually drive up costs up because the aggregate administrative costs and profit margins of more companies would mean everyone pays a little more for a lot less. Increased competition between insurers could lead to higher policy costs for everyone except the very young and healthy (who represent the least risk/most profit to the industry) and could mean more people get dropped when they do get sick. Increased competition between insurers could also increase the number of low value, non-comprehensive policies because these types of policies are offer more profit to the insurance industry and less protection to consumers. Furthermore fewer insurers’ means increased bargaining power for insurers for lower health care costs and more administrative cost efficiency for health care providers, thus lowering overall health care costs.

    People have to remember two important facts when they think about insurance. Insurance, of all forms, is a business bet based on risk analysis and isn’t comparable to normal consumer oriented businesses that offer typical goods/services. (There are many reasons the insurance industry has a unique set of financial and other regulations.) The problem for all consumers is that we are all human and even though we like to look in the mirror and see ourselves as perpetually young and healthy, we won’t always be that way; and when we do get old and sick (or just sick, at any age) as each of us inevitably will, we will need to be able to rely on insurance to pay the costs of our medical care.

    So far the Republicans have only offered hot air (and confusion re the difference between health insurance and actual delivery of health care services) in their approach to health insurance reform. Americans need to demand Republicans prove their concept and show exactly how increasing the amount number insurance companies will lead to lower health insurance costs while maintaining adequate coverage for an aging American population. Cravaack doesn’t even seem to understand the basic language and arguments related to the issue let alone any proof that his idea will do what he says it will.

  • Aaron Brown

    I’m more troubled by “The Senate is going to be the place where this plays out.” What? WHAT? The House is supposed to be the origin of legislation and the Senate is supposed to STOP IT. Usually it does. A real “huh?” moment for me, and that’s not even getting into the politics.

  • Michele

    @Aaron Brown…Agreed. His ignorance is appalling. But, hey, the good people of the 8th seem to think he is “ok” because they liked his television ads (or somesuch).

  • Eric Otto

    It is nice to hear a Republican who sounds like a Republican.