Business for Breakfast, Cory Gardner, April 24, 2019

Station:    KDMT, 1690 am

Show:       Business for Breakfast

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:       April 24, 2019

Topics:     Easter Recess, Alamosa, Lincoln Day Dinner, Blanca, Pueblo, Saw Mill, Steel Mill, Sri Lanka Bombings, ISIS, Water Issues, Arkansas Valley, Oil & Gas Industry, 2020 Re-election bid, Congressman Ken Buck, Colorado GOP Chair, Tax Cuts, Regulatory Relief, Economy, National Popular Vote, Senate Bill 181, Boston Bomber Vote, Jared Polis, Self-funding Candidates, Walker Stapleton Campaign, Elizabeth Warren, Student Loan Debt, Free College Tuition, Medicare For All, Green New Deal, Entitlement Burdens, Foreign Affairs Committee, Attacks on Religion, Christian Persecution, Asia Reassurance Initiative
Act, Social Media, Censor, Free Speech, Privacy Concerns, Marsha Blackburn, Mueller Investigation, Russian Interference in Elections, Hacking DNC Emails, Revenge Majority, Impeachment, State-based Decentralized Election System

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HOST JIMMY SENGENBERGER [00:00:01] And it is always a distinct pleasure to welcome here onto Business for Breakfast, the Republican Senator for Colorado, Cory Gardner, [a] good friend of the program, a friend of mine. [He] rejoins the show. Good morning, Senator. How are you?

UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER:  [00:00:18] I’m doing great Jimmy! Good morning! Thank you for having me.

SENGENBERGER [00:00:20] So, did I see that you’re in Colorado or are you back in D.C. now? [I] saw you  on FOX 31 this week.

GARDNER:  [00:00:27] Yep. No, all over Colorado. We started yesterday in Denver and we were down in Pueblo yesterday, then went over to Alamosa and Blanca yesterday, and then back in Pueblo this morning. And so we’re just all over the state.

SENGENBERGER [00:00:39] What are you doing right now on tour?

GARDNER:  [00:00:42] So, you know, in Denver we spoke to a group of people along with General Renuart, the former North Com commander — combatant commander. We had a talk on foreign policy in Pueblo. We toured the steel mill and they have some incredible opportunities for expansion there — twelve hundred employees, big employer.  In Blanca, we toured a saw mill. You know, the saw mill there is to sustain the forest and creates 78 jobs in a town that’s got to be — that’s got to be one of the biggest employers there. [In] Alamosa, [we] visited with a number of folks at the Lincoln Day dinner, there. And then in Pueblo this morning we’ll be talking about water issues in the Arkansas Valley. And then in Colorado Springs we’ll be meeting with soldiers over at the 10th Special Forces Group on Fort Carson. So, we’re talking about a lot of things all over the place.

SENGENBERGER [00:01:24] In other words you’re catching up with all sorts of different parts of the state.

GARDNER [00:01:29] That’s exactly right. And, you know, we live in a state that’s very diverse geographically, economically. And, you know, from our military heroes in Colorado Springs to farmers and ranchers on the eastern plains and the western slope, to our tech businesses in Denver and Northern Colorado, and our oil and gas industry in the northeast, everybody’s got to make sure that we are paying attention to them, we’re hearing from them, and pushing for policies that matter to them.

SENGENBERGER [00:01:52] Now, let’s talk politics for a moment, then, since you are traveling around this state, you are running for reelection in 2020.  We have a new state party chairman in Congressman Ken Buck. Things are starting to ramp up for next November. What’s your sense for where things were headed when you’ve got — I don’t know — about six dozen candidates lining up to go against you?

GARDNER [00:02:15] Well, look, I’m going to keep my head down and my shoulder forward,  accomplishing things for the people of Colorado.  What I think more and more Coloradans are alarmed about, though, what — we’ve got a great economy, thanks to our tax cuts, thanks to the regulatory relief we’ve provided. We’re working to open up new markets for agriculture trade. But they’re terrified about what’s happening at the federal level in the House and at the state legislative level. I mean, they see our popular vote — our voice — being taken away from us. They are very worried about tax increases. I spoke to a county sheriff yesterday who is very worried that [if] somebody gets arrested with heroin, [they] won’t even be put in jail in a place like Alamosa County, right now. This is incredible, what’s happening!

SENGENBERGER [00:02:54] Yeah, what’s taking place is the state legislature — we’re going to talk about it more later on in the program — but it really is stunning, the fast pace with which the Democrats in charge of the legislature and all of the statewide state positions that we’ve got there at — in the golden dome, and so forth — how quickly they’re going at radically doing some changes to the state. We’ve talked —  many a time on this program — about Senate Bill 181 dealing with oil and gas regulations and laws. We’ve talked about the national popular vote eroding Colorado’s voice if they get enough states to sign on to this compact in choosing President of the United States. We’ve talked a lot about some of the economic legislation outside of SB-181, just countless things that are going on. I don’t understand why the Democrats think they can just progress forward with this type of legislative agenda and not expect any blowback next year.

GARDNER [00:03:50] Well, and that’s the thing that the people in this race are going to face because they’re going to be asked, you know, “Do you agree with this? Do you believe that taking more money out of people’s and family’s pockets and sending it to Washington or to Denver is best for our economy in our country?” They’re going to be asked if, you know, letting government run health care — if that’s the right idea. I mean, my gosh, you even have at the federal level presidential candidates talking about letting terrorists vote in our election — people like the Unabomber, other — the Boston bombers–  giving them the ability to vote in the elections. I mean, that’s how far they have gone.

SENGENBERGER [00:04:24] Now, one final question relative to 2020: obviously, President Trump was unsuccessful in winning Colorado in 2016. Last year a blue wave really did sweep through Colorado. Let’s be honest. An now we’ve just got you as well as Heidi Ganahl, the CU Regent At-Large, as the two state-wide elected Republicans, which is stunning to think we’ve only got two here in the state of Colorado. So, I’m just curious [about] your sense for things moving forward in 2020, vis a vis maintaining your seat.

GARDNER [00:04:56] Well, look, I think in Colorado, we have a history of electing Democrats and Republicans.  At the end of Jared Polis’s term — something like — it’ll be 50 years that we’ve only had one governor — Republican governor — in 50 years in Colorado. So it’s nothing new that Colorado elects Democrats and Republicans.  In 2020, we are not going to have the same situation where the top of the ticket is outspending the Republican race significantly. I think Jared Polis outspent Walker Stapleton by $24 million because he wrote himself checks for that. You’ve got the opportunity for Coloradans to vote for or against the President. And remember, John McCain lost Colorado by 8 points. Mitt Romney lost Colorado by 6 points. Donald Trump lost Colorado by 4 points. So, I think if people are trying to say that the defeat of all the tax measures, the defeat of the oil and gas measures in November were a huge move to the left, I think they’d be mistaken.

SENGENBERGER [00:05:49] Yeah, it is such an interesting contradiction, where you had those measures like Amendment 73 — the tax increase for education and restructuring the tax structure in Colorado — going down in flames, same thing with Proposition 112, and at the same time electing all of these Democrats. It does show that there is still this conservative strain here in Colorado. And so, Senator Cory Gardner, our guest, I want to talk about some of the issues that are important here to Coloradans and also across the country, and in one case, around the world. You know, a lot of folks are concerned right now — especially millennials, but a great many others; in fact, I saw data that the largest group demographically age-wise of folks who are defaulting on their student loan debt are those between the ages of 40 and 49, particularly, because they were helping their kids to pay for college. Well, Senator Elizabeth Warren, your colleague from Massachusetts who’s running for President of the United States, has proposed what I’m calling the “Magic Student Loan Debt Eraser” and a free college goody bag that would cost well over a trillion dollars to afford, and also, just go through this whole process of trying to say, “Okay, we’re not going to have you take any responsibility for your student loan debt in many cases, or that you’re going to be able to get your education free,” as though that’s something that the government should be providing. What do you make of that discussion on student loan debt right now?

GARDNER [00:07:16] Well, again, I think this is just one more in the grab bag of free items and goodies that the Democrats are going to be running on. I mean, they’re going to –everybody gets free health care, everybody gets free education. If you don’t work, if you don’t want to work, you’re going to get a salary anyway. I mean, these are trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars. And you know, these are not free! The taxpayers will pay for this, whether or not your family goes to college, whether or not your family wants to go to Colorado State University or Harvard, you know, people will be paying for this some way or another, through the form of higher taxes. I think we have to have more college affordability. Absolutely, we have to have that. I think colleges need to look at why they continue to raise tuition far above the rate of inflation every single year. I’ve been working on legislation that would provide market-based solutions — free market solutions — to student loan challenges, allowing employers to contribute to their employees’ student loan to help attract employees and to retain those employees. We’ve been looking more flexible ways to use dollars that can pay off student loans. Those are things that we have to stand for. But I think what you have people like Elizabeth Warren standing for, is, you know, trillions of dollars in student loan freeness; you know, 30-plus trillion dollars in Medicare-for-All. You know, I can’t even remember how many trillions of dollars the Green New Deal represented. But all told, they are massive entitlement burdens on the backs of American taxpayers who simply want to work hard, improve their families’ lives, and be better off. But that can’t happen under this kind of spending spree.

SENGENBERGER [00:08:51] Yeah, if folks want to look up what you’ve proposed — you proposed at the end of the last last session in 2018 the Student Loan Repayment Acceleration Act — is what to check out. You know, I’d like to send your guys over your office some research that I’ve done on this student loan debt and college cost issue, because I think there are some aspects to this that aren’t being discussed very much. And perhaps we can have a more in-depth conversation about other things that perhaps could be done on that issue, on-air as well.

GARDNER [00:09:19] No, that would be great! I would love to look at it and see what we can be doing together.

SENGENBERGER [00:09:22] Senator Cory Gardner, our guest here on Business for Breakfast. I want to talk about the tragedy, the terrible terrorist attacks that took place on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. It looks like, Senator, ISIS has taken responsibility for this. I don’t know if that’s verified or not, but they’ve at least said that they are responsible for these attacks. It was the — attacks that resulted in hundreds of dead, hundreds more injured. And it looks like the United States government and other agencies notified the Sri Lankan government in advance that something like this might happen and no steps were taken to address it. What do you know about Sri Lanka — you’re on the Foreign Affairs Committee — and what went on Sunday and where things are at now?

GARDNER [00:10:09] Well, you know, Sri Lanka is a nation that has been torn by civil war and conflict for a number of years prior to this. That seems to have somewhat settled down in recent years, although a great deal of uncertainty about the government — and they’re not the strong government that it needs to be in order to protect the world from radical Islamic — and protect its people from radical Islamic terrorism.  The attack on Christians on Easter was something that I think we are getting all too familiar with around the globe, and attacks on religions, in general — the synagogue in Pennsylvania, the Christ Church shooting, and a mosque. I mean, this has to stop! And so, what I have done, through the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, is provided additional opportunities to work with the United States on counterterrorism, to help train military’s intelligence officials [and] agencies to work identifying — stop terror before it happens. But we have to understand — and I think the people of Sri Lanka have to understand — why, when there was actionable intelligence presented to the government, they failed to put in the necessary safeguards to protect their own people. So that’s something that I think the Sri Lankans deserve an answer to. It’s something we deserve an answer to, because that information we provide is, as — you know, it is good information that could have saved lives.

SENGENBERGER [00:11:26] I have to tell you, Senator Gardner, that there is a stirring increase — as you were saying —  in religious violence against folks of all different faiths. But one thing that I’ve been paying close attention to, relative to all this, is the mass persecution of Christians that we’ve been seeing, whether it is in the Middle East where ISIS has slaughtered countless Christians and destroyed countless artifacts and so forth of Christian history, or just what we’re seeing in Sri Lanka, what’s happening in China and what have you. It really is disheartening. And I’d like to see more attention drawn to the persecution of Christians.

GARDNER [00:12:01] Yeah, I think it’s something that we’ve talked about at the committee hearings in the past. We had a series of committee hearings on democracy and human rights at the Foreign Relations Committee. We’ve talked about that. We’ve talked about China’s persecution.  We talked about China’s — and many other areas of the world that have done this. So it is, I think, something that needs to be focused on and not just pushed aside.

SENGENBERGER [00:12:24] Let me ask you,, Senator Cory Gardner about social media. This is something that just about everybody seems to be using these days. I know that you, your office — you guys are active on social media.  And there’s a lot of talk these days about what to do in regards to free speech. Mark Zuckerberg is calling for increased government regulation on companies like Facebook. And also looking at the flurry of concerns regarding privacy and what’s going on with your personal data in the tech space on social media and other Web sites and what have you. I’m very concerned about regulation creep in this way. I don’t — I’m not confident in any way, shape, or form that the government is really capable of doing adequate regulation. So, I’m more of a hands-off kind of approach for the most part on this kind of stuff. But what is your take on the social media discussions and what maybe should be considered in that regard, given concerns about free speech being used to perpetuate messages and things that could be harmful in the minds of some onto the suppression of speech so to speak, as some are arguing is happening, say, against conservatives on some of these platforms.

GARDNER [00:13:39] Well, there’s a couple other facets of this, and I think you have to separate them out because if you confuse them it could result in really bad policy — or [if you] blur them, it could be some bad policy. So, you have that the concerns of privacy. And I do think we have to do a better job of protecting consumers’ privacy. You know, I have spoken to tech industry leaders and experts who have said to me — you know, sort of off the record — that the information that they were getting about consumers is just incredible and they didn’t even know it was possible. And so I am worried about what consumer information is getting out there unwittingly by American consumers. And I am concerned. So we do need to — I think — take a better look at privacy and take a stronger look.  And that’s what we’re in the process of doing — to establish a strong set of data privacy for consumers.  Now, on the information, on the free speech side of the free speech side, that’s a separate issue that I think we have to be very careful about, because perhaps the only worse thing than having 2000 censors in Silicon Valley, San Francisco area trying to determine what is — you know — a violation of their ethics conduct of free speech on Twitter or Facebook, may be 2000 people in Washington D.C. doing the same thing.

SENGENBERGER [00:14:46] Right.

GARDNER [00:14:46] I am concerned about that kind of a regulatory approach to free speech because, who gets to determine what is or is not speech that should be allowed? So, you know, I think this is a very, very serious subject. I am concerned about whether or not conservative voices are getting censored. I think if you look at — was it YouTube that took town Marsha Blackburn’s campaign video when she announced for the Senate?  She took a very commonly accepted position as a Republican, and it was taken down. And so, I am concerned about that. And we have to continue to make sure that free speech is not trampled by anyone, whether it’s the government or these social media platforms.

SENGENBERGER [00:15:30] Although the social media platforms — yeah, I understand that there’s a discussion about the nature, fundamentally, of those platforms, whether they are platforms, or they are publishers and the responsibilities that come to them depending on which categorization they fit into. But the thing is, that — for me — I mean, I get — like you were saying before, about the folks in Washington D.C., all those bureaucrats making determinations. I get more concerned about government being involved in those, Senator Gardner, than I am even about Twitter and Facebook going off the wall in some of these circumstances. I’m concerned about that, but I don’t see a reason why the government should really be getting involved, there.

GARDNER [00:16:11] Well, and that was my point. I mean, the only thing worse than having someone in San Francisco do it might be the federal government [doing it].  And so, you know, that is something that we have to be very, very careful pf and cautious about, and why I don’t think we can blur these two areas, protecting people’s data and privacy with the speech.

SENGENBERGER [00:16:27] All right, I want to ask you about the Mueller investigation. That report came out last week, and I think President Trump was largely vindicated, there. I don’t think that there’s any basis for impeachment calls of any sort. But you have, now, major Democrats running for president and some of the leaders in the U.S. Congress in the House of Representative side on important committees suggesting that perhaps impeachment proceedings should take place in regards to President Trump over Russian collusion or particularly now — obstruction of justice. I think everybody’s accepted that there was no collusion. But they are now saying, “Oh!  He engaged in obstruction of justice! to an extent that we need to look at possible impeachment!”   What’s your take on that?

GARDNER [00:17:10] Well, first of all, I think the fact that we have no collusion and no cooperation by any American is something that I hope that we across this nation are very grateful for, and that we can make sure that we focus on what is the biggest concern of Russian interference and hacking — trying to hack into the election. And so, that’s where we have to focus — I think — on this, is making sure that that kind of disinformation, that kind of attacks on our elections systems, doesn’t happen again and that we are prepared for it — we understand what to look out for. So I think that’s where we go. But I do think the Democrats are going to be — I think they’re going to try to pursue impeachment because they are — you know, I’ve said this before — the House majority is a revenge majority. They didn’t like the fact that President Trump was elected. They don’t think he should have been. I think they’re going to try to pursue it. Now, Nancy Pelosi has said she’s trying to tap the brakes on it. But she’s going to find out that her conference underneath her is going to move on without her.

SENGENBERGER [00:18:08] Yeah, I think that there are those in the party that are going to be able — potentially, like you’re suggesting — to get some steam and move forward with something like this. Now, I just want to make clear, in regards to the obstruction question, I mean, there are there are some unflattering things for President Trump in this report — make no mistake about it. But the bottom line is that he did not actually interfere with the investigation. Muller was not fired. He was never denied any sort of resources. I had Ken Starr — the independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation — here on this program say that Bob Mueller would have been able to get a Cadillac from the administration if he needed it. I think that’s critical to keep in mind, is the Democrats are talking about impeachment.

GARDNER [00:18:52] Well, and I think that they are missing the biggest concern is the Russian interference.

SENGENBERGER [00:18:56] Yes! .

GARDNER [00:18:58] If the Democrats want to continue on that, then they’re not paying attention to how we’re focusing on protecting our elections. And that’s where we ought to be focusing on as a result of this report which was done fairly, thoroughly, and transparently.

SENGENBERGER [00:19:09] Thirty seconds on the Russian interference, what is being done — what should be being done in your mind, Cory Gardner?

GARDNER [00:19:15] Well, we have to track down those responsible, hold them accountable. We have to make sure that we are working with Facebook and the other platforms that are using this disinformation to try to stop it and make sure that people are educated about what it is and where — what they are trying to do, and then make sure states have the resources to protect their systems. We’ve had a lot of money that has been put into protecting those systems. There is still money available. And they need to make sure they’re implementing it, using those resources to safeguard our state-based, decentralized election system.

SENGENBERGER [00:19:46] U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, traveling Colorado this week, thanks so much for taking the time. Always great to check in, and safe travels!

GARDNER [00:19:53] Thanks, Jimmy!