Business for Breakfast, Cory Gardner, March 28, 2019

Station:     KDMT, 1490 am

Show:       Business for Breakfast

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:       March 28, 2019

Topics:      Second

Click Here for Audio

SENGENBERGER:  Let’s go to the phones, where I’m pleased to welcome back to Business for Breakfast, Republican Senator for Colorado, Cory Gardner rejoins us. Sir, good morning!  Welcome back!

UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER:  Good morning!  Thanks for having me.

SENGENBERGER:  You know, it’s always great to talk with you and I appreciate the time. And of course, there’s no shortage of things that we can talk about. I do want to start by talking about an accolade that you received. You’re apparently the 5th most bipartisan senator in the United States Senate. What in the world is going on with that? I mean, I thought reaching across the aisle was so passe.

GARDNER:  Well, you know, you have a lot of people who try to characterize all of us in a way that shows we don’t work together. But this is, I think, a sign that I care very deeply about making sure that we work together, we find common ground, and we find solutions. And it doesn’t mean that you can no longer be a liberal or a conservative. It just means that you’re trying to find a way to actually solve real problems. And to solve real problems in the United States Senate, you’re going to have support from the other side of the aisle.

SENGENBERGER:  Yeah, for example, you just partnered up with Senator Michael Bennet once again, for something called the Power Act.

GARDNER:  That’s right. You know, Michael Bennet and I have worked on a lot of legislation together: the Power Act and working on issues of cyber security, making sure that people have the ability to coordinate with local governments, making sure that we have veterans who are able to be trained in renewable energy and other energy opportunities in our great economy in Colorado. So, we continue to do a number of things – including the Power Act – together.

SENGENBERGER:  Now, some folks have said that being bipartisan in Congress is not what it used to be because of the way in which things are, with President Trump as the President of the United States, and that being bipartisan is not something that you should actually be touting anymore, because whether you are left or you’re right, you should stand your ground firmly. What do you say to that?

GARDNER:  Well, look, I think the problem with Democrats today is – I think a lot of people are saying that. But they did not say that under Barack Obama. So to me, that could be a pretty partisan excuse. And it’s just something I don’t accept. I think we ought to work together, and we ought to find those ways to solve problems for our country. And as I said before, I mean, this doesn’t mean that people can’t be true to their beliefs. It just simply means that you’re finding a way – and solutions – to get people on board with the ideas that you have.

SENGENBERGER:  For example, when it comes to bipartisanship, there was a vote earlier this week that had a very interesting breakdown. Fifty-seven senators voted ‘no’ on the so-called Green New Deal, including 3 Democrats and one Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, every Republican. So, the bipartisanship was clearly on the ‘no’ side. But then you had 43 Democrats who voted ‘present,’ including the sponsor of the legislation, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. What happened there?

GARDNER:  Well, you know, what’s amazing about the Green New Deal is this is an actual bill that was introduced, that was cosponsored by presidential candidates, and that had everybody on board. But now, [incredulous chuckle] what’s amazing is the people who supported this bill – this is a quote from one of their supporters – said, “It was never created with the intention of passing.” I have never introduced a bill that – “Oh, I’m just introducing it. I hope it never passes.” I mean, that’s just crazy. The fact that they would introduce a bill and then later claim that it has no intention of passing, and then to say that, “Oh, we need to lay out later what it’s all about,” well, it was made very clear what it was about through the frequently asked questions or answers that this –the Congresswoman from New York provided.  So, you had people voting ‘no’ because they know it is going to kill our economy and they know it is a socialist wish list. But then you have people voting ‘present’ because apparently they were too embarrassed to vote for their own bill.

SENGENBERGER:  Well, they are saying it was just a political stunt on the part of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, which I’m curious about because, usually, wouldn’t you like to have your legislation go to the floor?

GARDNER:  I – I – I – Jimmy! [incredulous tone] I have never had a vote on one of my bills – my bill – that I would characterize as a sham vote or a stunt. I want votes on my bills. I want them to pass, that’s why I introduce them. To introduce a bill, to then get a vote on your bill, and then to claim that it was a bluff or a stunt, that’s pretty embarrassing.

SENGENBERGER:  One thing that’s so striking is you have what’s going on at the national level with the Green New Deal, Sen. Cory Gardner, and right here in Colorado, we have sort of a “Green Little Deal on the Platte”, if you will. And that is, we’ve got Senate Bill 181 trying to destroy the oil and gas industry, we’ve got numerous climate change-based regulations. I wonder, what’s going on here in Colorado, where they’re moving full speed ahead with this kind of stuff that can be really, really harmful to rural Colorado and to all other parts of Colorado. And yet, those at the national level seem to be – I don’t know – maybe putting the brakes on some of this, to some extent, except when they talk about it.  What do you think is going on here on the Democratic side in Colorado and across the country?

GARDNER:  Well, make no doubt about it, I mean, Colorado’s Green New Deal in SB-181 will destroy jobs, it will hurt communities, it will hurt taxpayers because the severance taxes that come from oil and gas will no longer be available to build rural schools, to pave roads, to make our communities a better place. And you know, this is very personal for me. It’s very personal because I live in a community that – you know, [there are] agricultural jobs and maybe not many other kinds of jobs. But one of the industries we do have – and did have, at least – was the oil and gas industry, where my high school classmates, who may not have come back to that town because they needed other opportunities, could come back to that hometown. They could find a good-paying job. They could get a job with health insurance benefits that paid more than they ever imagined they could get back in that hometown. And so, this bill that would try to — I don’t understand what right it is of government to tell somebody that their job isn’t good enough according to government standards, and therefore they should work somewhere else. That is pretty arrogant.

SENGENBERGER:  Now, however, you have Democrats who are saying that if you oppose the Green New Deal at the national level, you oppose the policies that we’re seeing rammed down through the state legislature, that you are not taking climate change seriously enough — or seriously at all. To what extent do you believe climate change is a key concern that needs to be addressed, and is there a better way?

GARDNER:  Look, I think we’ve all voted – at least, almost 99% of the Senate has voted admit that climate change is real, that global industrial activity across world has affected this and impacted this. And here’s the bottom line, though: what I take real and seriously is socialism. And this lurch to socialism that the New Green Deal, which would guarantee government jobs, which would provide free healthcare, which would provide free education, which would mandate that every building in America be remodeled, cost trillions and trillions of dollars – I take that very seriously, because that’s exactly what they want to do. Now, what I also take seriously, are finding ways to reduce the impact that development has on our environment, to reduce pollution.  You know, we have been able to do that through strong renewable energy in Colorado, whether that is wind and solar and geothermal opportunities and hydro-power. But we can’t do it in a way that destroys the economy. When people say that, “I’m sorry, the government has determined that your job is no longer needed or desired, I think that is the wrong approach.

SENGENBERGER:  Well, and also, fracking technology has drastically improved to the point where we’re now net-exporters of oil and gas out into the rest of the world.  And at the same time, carbon dioxide emissions – overall, generally, year-to-year – have been in a downward trend, which is really encouraging. But I want to ask you about something else. I just released a video last night on the issue of student loan debt in America. Folks can go to my Twitter [feed], @SengCenter – ‘Seng’ with an ‘e,’ not an ‘a,’ Center on Twitter – and find it there. But in it, I talk about a couple different ways to address the student loan crisis, one-and-a-half trillion dollars in student loan debt that has been amassed cumulatively across the country right now, up to this point. And one of the things I highlight is the Student Loan Repayment Acceleration Act that you introduced into Congress last October that I think could really help to provide an opportunity for student loan borrowers – folks who still have debt, myself included — to be able to pay back that debt more quickly.  Tell us a little bit about that bill.

GARDNER:  You know, we’ve got a couple different student loan bills.  And thank you so much for the work you’ve done on it to highlight it. But one of these ideas, as you mentioned, was a bill that would allow employers–. Here are a couple concerns, obviously, from employees who have student loans.  They’re very worried about how they are going to afford a family, how they’re going to save for retirement when they have these student loans they’re paying off.  From employers across Colorado, I hear about their need for a workforce. They just can’t find the people to stay and work because the economy is so hot. And so, this bill is an idea to allow a private sector, private sort of free market solution to student loan debt, where an employer would be able to pay their employee up to $10,000 toward that employee’s student loan. The employer wouldn’t have to pay an unemployment insurance tax or payroll tax on it at all, and the employee wouldn’t have to collect or pay an income tax on that, or pay a payroll tax on that.  It would all go toward – as long as it went toward – [paying down] that student loan [debt].  So, it’s just one – and you know, it gives the employee an incentive to stay with that employer, and it gives the employer a reason to give a benefit to an employee to keep them on board for a long time – or a longer time. So, I think this is a market-based solution. We’ve got other ideas out there on student loans, expanding 529 opportunities, making them more useful for education like internship programs and apprenticeship programs, because not everybody is – you know, a four-year college degree isn’t the right path for everybody.

SENGENBERGER:  Well, one other thing I would encourage you and everybody in the Senate to look back at is what was undone, essentially, in the 70s and codified in the 90s which was the almost elimination of the ability to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy. I think that that has removed risk to the lender and put a whole lot of borrowers that find themselves deeply in debt to the point of default in a situation that they can’t really get out of. And I think that kind of relief is something to look into, as well. But I want to ask you one more thing – maybe two – but we’re just about out of time with you. Senator Cory Gardner [is] our guest.  This week, the House of Representative tried to override President Trump’s veto of the national emergency declaration at the southern border. Of course, that attempt was a failure, as expected.  It wasn’t able to override the veto. Now, I know you voted in favor of supporting President Trump’s  resolution – or effort, here; so against the Democrats’ resolution.  I’ve been concerned about constitutional issues, in terms of the Congress in the 1970s providing deference that isn’t necessarily in step with what the President should have constitutionally. And so I wasn’t supportive – and remain unsupportive – of the national emergency resolution. But I’m curious: [what are] your thoughts on that and where we go from here on the issue.

GARDNER:  Well, the 1976 National Emergency Act makes it clear that the President does have the authority to declare an emergency for immigration purposes. And we do have a crisis on the border. Talking to our men and women in uniform who have been on the border, talking to our border patrol, talking to experts, we have a dramatic increase in people coming to the border.  We have an alarming increase in the number of women and children who are being trafficked by coyotes, who are then being abandoned on the border, or abused and assaulted along the way. There is a human trafficking crisis, there is a narco-trafficking crisis that has to be addressed. And you know, a year ago Republicans and Democrats agreed. They provided $25 billion in border security funding. They provided fixes to DACA, fixes to the family migration issue. The intervening election that changed the majority in the House seems to have changed people’s determination to consider it still a crisis. So, I hope that politics can get put aside, that policy prevails – good policy prevails.  And that’s what I’m dedicated to.

SENGENBERGER:  Well, Congre – or Senator Cory Gardner!  Congressman! You haven’t been a Congressman for several years, now!

GARDNER:  Yeah! “Whatever you are!” [unintelligible] Or just plain ‘Cory!’

SENGENBERGER:  Just plain Cory! I like that! Well, the 5th most bipartisan senator in the United States Senate, [it is] always great to check in with you.  Thanks for the time this morning!

GARDNER:  Hey, thanks for having me, Jimmy. Thank you!