Business for Breakfast, Cory Gardner, March 29, 2018

Station:   KNUS, 710 AM

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:        March 29, 2018

Topics:     Fair Trade Deals, North Korea, COROS Agreement, Donald Trump, China Tariffs, World Trade Organization, Asia, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), European Union, Kim Jong Un Regime, Denuclearize, President Xi, Maximum Pressure, Strategic Patience, Sanctions, Verifiable Concrete Steps, Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Data Privacy, Equifax Breech, Regulation of the Internet, Regulation of Internet Content, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), FCC, Data Collection, Privacy Concerns, Rush to Regulate Obama Presidential Campaigns, Omnibus Bill, Pathetic Process, 1974 Budget Act, Balanced Budget Amendment, Biennial Budget, Filibuster on Motion to Proceed, Deadlines.

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HOST JIMMY SENGENBERGER: [00:00:00] Welcome to the program once again, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, who joins us from Washington D.C — or no! Where are you? You’re not in Washington right now!

U.S. SENATOR FROM COLORADO, AND CHAIR OF THE NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE, CORY GARDNER: [00:00:07] I am in the big city of South Fork, Colorado. So, if you’ve ever been to South Fork, it’s on the road between, like, Pagosa Springs and Monte Vista. We’ve had a series of meetings yesterday and all day today. Looking forward to spending some time in the San Luis Valley.

SENGENBERGER: [00:00:23] I don’t know if it’s south or if it’s north, but there’s a fork in the road when it comes to trade, right now. The direction that were headed, Senator Gardner, right now — or yesterday, President Trump announced some developments with regards to South Korea. I’m wondering what your take is on the trade issue, vis a vis the KorUs Agreement — that is, the Korean U.S. trade agreement.

GARDNER: [00:00:46] Well, the President has made it very clear from the time he was running for president to the time he’s been in office that he supported fair trade deals. And he believed that Korea was not treating the U.S. fairly. And quite frankly, I’d heard from some businesses who are concerned about the implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, or KORUS, as you called it. And so, I think this is an opportunity for people to come together and say, “Hey, what was working? What wasn’t working? And let’s make it — fine tune the details a little bit.” Overall, KorUS has been positive for Colorado. If you look at the state, we’ve added thousands of jobs because of the trade agreement. Primarily, those jobs are in agriculture. And if one sector of our economy is struggling right now, it is the agricultural economy. And so, these trade agreements have done a great deal to help Ag[riculture], and the last thing we need to do is do something that hurts them. And that’s why I’m glad to see this being resolved.

SENGENBERGER: [00:01:38] And so, in regards to South Korea, I’m pleased that they reached some sort of an agreement, as well, to move past it for North Korea which we’ll talk about in a bit with you Senator Cory Gardner. But one of the things that kind of perplexes me a little bit is some of the components of this agreement. For example, one of the things is that we have a quota of 25,000 vehicles into South Korea that meet U.S. automaker standards. But there’s no more than 11,000 automaker products that go into South Korea for any given automaker. Yet the quota has been doubled to 50,000 from 25,000. You also have the extension of this quota of pickup trucks — or this tariff on pickup trucks into the United States from South Korea for 20 years. Yet South Korea imports no pickup trucks to the United States. And then with regards to currency manipulation concerns, there’s really no teeth in that regard. So I’m not so sure how much of a benefit this is, to be honest with you.

GARDNER: [00:02:41] Well, that’s what we have to look at the details. Obviously, the President will present the entirety of the agreement to Congress, and he believes that it’s greater and stronger than it was. South Korea has domestic institutes — industries — that they’re going to try to protect, just like the United States tries to, despite the fact that you’re negotiating free trade. And so this is an agreement the President obviously feels meets his standards, being better than it was. So, as the details emerge, clearly, there could be more conversation.

SENGENBERGER: [00:03:08] Now, what do you make of the China tariffs that he has placed on — or will be placing on — as much as 60 billion dollars and then China retaliating with three billion dollars in tariffs? Your thoughts?

GARDNER: [00:03:19] Well, I think if there’s one country around the globe has consistently violated trade rules — WTO norms, norms of international trade and agreements — it has been China. They have required joint venture ownership when somebody wants to do business in China. They have stolen billions upon billions of dollars of intellectual property from U.S. companies, companies around the globe. They continue to manipulate currency. I think it’s appropriate to take a tough stand against China. Now, what we have to do is not just act alone. We have to make sure that we bring in our partners and allies from around the globe who are also being affected by unfair Chinese trade practices and bring them into this so that it doesn’t result in a trade war of China versus the United States — which affects everybody — and everybody else can take advantage of the trade dispute between China and the United States. So, this is something that we need global buy-in for. Obviously, it’s not going to be China’s buy-in, but we can look to Europe. We can look to our other Asia trade partners outside of China and say. “Hey, China needs to start behaving by rules of international order that they’ve agreed to but have simply ignored.”

SENGENBERGER: [00:04:29] Then, to that point, Senator Gardner, should it possibly have been the strategy of the President to go to the WTO and build a coalition first, as opposed to unilaterally saying we’re going to inflict 60 billion dollars of tariffs?

GARDNER: [00:04:44] I think going to the WTO is a good idea. The United States has gone to the WTO for two decades. I think China has gotten away without a basic decision from the WTO, so that his organization has proved that it really can’t stand up to China, either. So, I think that more appropriate would have been to engage Europe, engage European Union. engage our other trade partners — Mexico, Canada, and the NAFTA organization and other trade partners to say, “Hey, what can we do to create a global coalition that would really tell China, ‘Either change your predatory economic behavior, or we will do something together as a global trade coalition.'”.

SENGENBERGER: [00:05:22] Any week now — speaking of Asia and Korea, President Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un, the dictator in North Korea. What is your thought on the negotiations?

GARDNER: [00:05:32] You know, again, this is something that we’ve been building up to, putting more and more pressure on the Kim Jong Un regime to denuclearize. He has said he would like to denuclearize. He’s now told–apparently, at least it’s been reported this way — he’s told Kim Jun–excuse me, Kim Jong Un told President Xi this as well in Beijing recently, that he would consider — quote-unquote, “consider”– denuclearization. What we need to do in the coming weeks leading up to this, is continue our maximum pressure, continue sanctions. I’d like to see more sanctions passed against North Korea during the interim time to prove that we are not going to let up until they indeed do denuclearize, and that we have to have verifiable, concrete steps taken to prove that it’s more than just another broken promise, as we have seen far too many times.

SENGENBERGER: [00:06:18] So, no longer Strategic Patience, coupled with a nice conversation?

GARDNER: [00:06:22] [chuckles] This is not about sitting by while your kids have a food fight and then doing nothing about it. No. This is being tough. This is taking away every avenue of revenue to this [inaudible] regime, and making sure that they behave as a responsible nation.

SENGENBERGER: [00:06:39] Now, coming back to the home frontier in the United States, — and we’re talking with U.S. Senator Cory Gardner — Facebook is caught in the crossfire of their own making, in terms of some data practices that have been criticized. They’re taking a number of steps proactively themselves to try to address the situation. But there’s a lot of talk about the possibility of government regulation stepping in to look over Facebook’s shoulder and some of these other major tech companies. What are your thoughts on that?

GARDNER: [00:07:07] I think this is a very, very timely conversation. We should have this. There’s more and more — more and more of our data is outside of our control, whether it’s a credit rating agency like Equifax, and we’ve seen what happens when they lose control of our data that they hold, and we’ve seen what happens when, now, Facebook concerns over privacy are utilized in ways that people who applied or have a Facebook page didn’t like or agree with. So, let’s get the information. Let’s get the facts. Let’s find out what happened. Let’s have an understanding of privacy. But I also caution people to– to — [against] a rush to regulate. Do they really think having government regulation over the Internet is a good idea — government regulation over content? And so, let’s figure out whether that’s a privacy rule — the FTC already does privacy, so that’s important, that we understand their role. If they can fine tune them, that’s good. But let’s be very careful that we don’t rush to a regulation that could hurt a free and open Internet.

SENGENBERGER: [00:08:10] And so, when it comes to this whole idea of regulation — and really, an uproar about data collection and privacy concerns — for some reason, it seems to me, Senator Gardner, that there is more intrigue and more focus in the media and also among some of those in elected office on Facebook in this data collection practice than there even was over Equifax. Is that a sense that you have?

GARDNER: [00:08:33] You know, I don’t know that you can judge, sort of, the interest or intrigue on this versus the other. I do think that there seems to be a lot of intrigue on Facebook right now because of the 2016 election. I would just point out that President Obama was hailed for many data collection activities and programs they put in place in 2012 and 2008. And you know, is there a difference between what they were doing –? I’m not sure. That information all needs to come to light. But I will say that as the FTC — the Federal Trade Commission — is going to be looking at privacy issues and how this works. The FCC obviously has their role to play, and I think they’ve made that public. But let’s be thoughtful. Let’s be reasonable. And let’s not turn this into a case where the government all of a sudden gets to become the gatekeeper of the Internet.

SENGENBERGER: [00:09:26] Final topic for you, Senator Gardner, before we have got to cut you loose, and that is the Omnibus Bill. This was a massive 1.3 trillion dollar spending bill that passed the Congress last week and was signed into law by President Trump. As I understand it, you voted ‘no.’ Is that correct, and why?

GARDNER: [00:09:42] I voted ‘no.’ Look this is a pathetic process. One-point-three trillion dollars of spending — it’s not just the money that’s in the bill. There’s a lot of policy in the bill that’s really not supposed to be in the bill because it’s an appropriations bill, not a policy bill. Four people basically had the chance to write this bill. It wasn’t debated. It wasn’t amended. It didn’t go to committee. It didn’t go to the floor for amendments. This is no way to run a country. It’s tiresome to see this over and over again. The whole process needs [to be] thrown out, redone, and we can actually have something the American people can be proud of.

SENGENBERGER: [00:10:12] Yeah, but it is Republicans who are in charge of Congress, right now, and they’ve got the presidency. How does something like this happen? You’re in leadership.

GARDNER: [00:10:20] Well, it happens because there’s a broken system that hasn’t worked since 1974. It’s worked like two or three times. And when people see the advantage of not letting the system work so they can have more power to control over it, that’s exactly what happens. So, I’m tired of it. A lot of people are tired of it. This barely got the majority of the majority voting for it. And I hope this can never happen again, because we will get the kinds of reforms that we need to make a difference.

SENGENBERGER: [00:10:44] Final question for you, Senator Cory Gardner, on this topic and then we’ll let you go. And that is: with regards to the process, what needs to change?

GARDNER: [00:10:52] Well, look, I think if you look at the 1974 Budget Act, a couple of things need to change. Number one, we need to have deadlines. I’d like to see — kind of like we do at the state legislature — where you’re required to get your job done in a certain amount of time, it has to be out of the committee, and you can’t just hold it up. I’d like to see the elimination of the filibuster on the motion to proceed, which would have prevented these bills from, you know, failure to get out of the starting block, in the first place — the appropriations bills, they would have been on the floor for debate. I’d like to see a constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment in place. I think that would go a long ways to help stopping some of these spending overtures. And I’d also like to see us go to a biennial budget, because right now we spend the majority of every year trying to appropriate instead of investigating, authorizing, digging into how the money is being spent. We do the same thing over and over again on just trying to get the funding bills done. So, this is just a few of the ideas that ought to be in place.

SENGENBERGER: [00:11:46] A budget? Really, a budget in Congress! Who would have thunk it? I have no idea.

GARDNER: [00:11:52] Well, you know, we’ve passed budgets in the past several years. It’s just — the problem is, the budget doesn’t have the teeth of law. That’s part of the broken system.

SENGENBERGER: [00:12:01] Yeah. All right. Senator Cory Gardner, live from South Fork, Colorado, thanks for joining us, so much. [I] really appreciate it!

GARDNER: [00:12:06] Hey, thanks, Jimmy! Take care! Thanks.