Business for Breakfast, Cory Gardner, October 23, 2018

Station:    KDMT, 1690 am

Show:       Business for Breakfast

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:        October 23, 2018


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HOST JIMMY SENGENBERGER: But first I want to go to the VIP line where we’re pleased to welcome back to the program, the senator from Colorado on the Republican side, Mr. Cory Gardner rejoins us. Sir, welcome back to the show.

U.S. SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER:  [00:00:12] Hey, good morning, Jimmy. Thanks for having me.

SENGENBERGER: [00:00:13] Always great to have you. So, I want to start off — we’ve been doing a lot of political stuff of late because, I don’t know, elections are underway. At least, that’s what I hear. There’s this rumor–.

GARDNER:  [00:00:24] There’s something going on.

SENGENBERGER: [00:00:24] Exactly. And I also hear that you are the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and I wonder what you can tell us about how your thought process is moving forward when it comes to this election in the U.S. Senate.

GARDNER:  [00:00:40] Now, well, thank you for that. And thanks for having me on this morning. Look, two years ago when I started in this position, I said we have a big map. We have a big map to grow — to retain and grow this majority, and one that includes states like Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, Florida, that we are going to have strong incumbents in states like Arizona, Nevada that are going to win these races. Now, that is basically held true to today. There were some questions about what would happen in Texas and Tennessee early on — I think more created by the media than reality. But we’re going to win in Tennessee. We’re going to win in Texas. And our incumbents are on their front foots when they’re looking at holding onto the seats that we have in Nevada and Arizona. They’re tough, close races but I think we get it.

SENGENBERGER: [00:01:28] So, you think we add a couple of seats on the Republican side?

GARDNER:  [00:01:31] You know, I’m confident we’ll retain the majority. And I think that we will actually grow the majority, as well.

SENGENBERGER: [00:01:37] Well, we’ll see. It’s going to be fascinating to watch. And it is definitely an important election, to be sure. I am also curious [about] your thoughts here in Colorado. Obviously, there is no Senate race up this year. Goodness. But we do have the races for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state, treasurer, C.U. regent. What do you think about these contests?

GARDNER:  [00:01:59] You know, I’m confident that Walker Stapleton can win this race, and will win this race, I think, for Governor. I think if the people of Colorado want a future that includes a robust economy, one that puts the people first instead of government first, they’re going to vote for Walker Stapleton. He understands that we can’t have a government that decides to tell you what to do, how to do it, and where to go each and every day. And that’s what Jared Polis’ — you know — socialized medicine plan would do. That’s what his plans for increased government in our lives would do. And he also wants to tell you what kind of jobs you can and can’t have. He would destroy the energy industry with many of his plans. And so Walker Stapleton understands the importance of a strong, robust economy — not just for [the] front range, but all of Colorado. I think George Brauchler is going to win. We need an attorney general who’s going to enforce the law, not try to make the law. That’s not the role of the attorney general. And we don’t need some kind of an activist who’s trying to become a federal power player, and that’s exactly what I think you’d get if George Brauchler does not get elected. And we need somebody who is going enforce the law — law and order, and making sure that we protect this state. And that’s what George Brauchler would do. I’m hearing good things about Brian Watson’s campaign. I’ve heard that he’s ahead. And so, now, that’s what I’ve heard. It’s hearsay. But I think we need somebody with business experience in that treasurer’s office to get the job done. Wayne Williams has proven that — as many newspapers across the state have said — he may be the single best secretary of state this state has ever had.

SENGENBERGER: [00:03:27] Yeah, he’s doing a phenomenal job in my view, as well. The one congressional race, of course, where there are some challenges is U.S. Congressman Mike Coffman. You served with him in Congress for several years. What do you make of Mike Coffman?

GARDNER:  [00:03:42] Look, I think Mike has always had a tough race and a very tough district. A lot of people have counted him out and he has won. So, I think this is going to be yet another election where, through his hard work and incredible advocacy for the people of his district, he is going to be reelected. Look, this is a tough district. This is a midterm election. We know historically midterm elections go against the party that is in the majority when they share the same party in the White House. But there’s no one who’s worked harder for their district than Mike Coffman. And I think people will see that, and they’ll vote that way.

SENGENBERGER: [00:04:15] All right. Let’s get into some of the issues of the day with our guest, Senator Cory Gardner, of the great state of Colorado. On Friday, we had the great fortune of speaking with the acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, [we] went through some of the regulatory rollback agenda of the Trump administration cutting that red tape, which is also something that the US Congress has, in the last couple of years, done dramatically as well using the Congressional Review Act in a way that had never been really done before. Tell us about your thoughts on what the Trump administration has done with regards to deregulation, and also what the Senate and House have done together.

GARDNER:  [00:04:55] Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think one of the things that held our economy back for so many years — in fact, under President Obama his economic adviser Larry Summers called the conditions of our economy, the low growth we were facing “secular stagnation.” Secular stagnation was just a fancy way of saying, “We’re not growing really very much as a country, but we’re just going to have to get used to it because this is just the way it’s going to be.” And under Obama-nomics, what happened was businesses were afraid to invest. They didn’t want to invest because of the regulatory stranglehold of Washington and the uncertainty that it poses. So what we’ve done — the executive branch has done, an Congress has done — is we’ve really taken a step back and saying, “Hey, let’s let’s get rid of some of these regulations that simply don’t make sense. Let’s get rid of the regulations where the costs outweigh the benefit. Let’s focus on smart regulations. Let’s focus on ways to create jobs and opportunity and wage growth for the American people. And we’ve reduced in Congress regulations [to] the magnitude of $80 billion. I believe the executive branch has even done more. And now we see economic growth approaching 4 percent. We’ve nearly doubled what the Obama growth was. And we’ve done it because we’ve gotten Washington out of the way. And that’s what we’re going to have to continue to do to see the kind of jobs and wage growth that we need to see in this country.

SENGENBERGER: [00:06:15] Do you think that the tax cuts and jobs act has indeed supported the deregulatory agenda effectively, in terms of helping to get the economic gears rolling again, and in fact putting more money in people’s pockets? Do you think it’s working.

GARDNER:  [00:06:29] Abso–absolutely, it has. We’ve seen billions upon billions of dollars come back into this country from overseas. We’ve seen wage growth in this country. We’ve seen benefit growth in this country. We’re starting to see more jobs being created. Again, that economic growth [is] approaching 4 percent. That’s because of regulatory cuts. That’s because of tax cuts. Now, what you don’t hear is — you know, from anyone– is saying, “You know, I’d like to give up that wage growth. I’d like to give up that tax cuts.” Why?Because they know that’s not in their best interests, and they know that the tax cuts are working. That’s what we’re going to continue to pursue.

SENGENBERGER: [00:07:03] President Trump has floated the idea of expanding the tax cuts with a [tax cuts legislation] 2.0. It’s obviously pretty tough to do this year in 2018, but perhaps [in] 2019 it could be touched on again. What are your thoughts on that notion?

GARDNER:  [00:07:17] Well, I do think we need to do some things from a tax bill that we didn’t quite complete when we passed it this last time, including making the tax cuts permanent. I would like to see, — you know, we’ve put tax cuts in place for some, but the small businesses and individuals that — this expires in five years. I’d like to see that made permanent. I’d like to see those tax cuts made permanent so that people don’t have to worry about — in five years, or whatever it is — having a fiscal cliff, so to speak, that they’re going to fall off [when] their taxes increased dramatically. So let’s make them permanent. I think that would help our economy even more, and certainly would help out working families across the country.

SENGENBERGER: [00:07:53] Yeah, I know I understood the whole notion of the reconciliation procedure that the Senate had to do in order to get the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act through last December. But at the same time, I thought that there should have been some way figured out to make the individual tax cuts permanent. So I would like to see that done. Something that ties in with the tax code that I think is rather unique, and you haven’t — you’ve gotten a little bit of attention for it in local press, but not too much. Last week, you introduced — I think it was last week — you introduced the Student Loan Repayment Acceleration Act, which is a new bill trying to make it a little bit more speedy for individuals in concert with their employers to pay back student loans. We know that the average student loan burden is at least $30,000. You, yourself, still have existing student loans. Tell us about this legislation you put forward.

GARDNER:  [00:08:45] You bet. What this legislation is trying to do, is really solve a false, artificial Washington problem. Let’s get government out of the way. This doesn’t throw a new program at things, but this says, “You know what? We’re going to stop government from interfering with what could already happen inthe private marketplace.” This would make sure that when a business contributes to a employee to help them pay off their student loan, which they do, that we just get government out of the way; meaning that we don’t tax the business. We don’t force them to pay a payroll tax on the amount of money that’s going to pay off that student loan. [We] don’t force them to pay an unemployment insurance cost for that amount that’s going to the student loan. And we don’t force the loan carrier — the graduate with the student loan — to pay an income tax on it. That’s getting government out of the way. And instead of, you know, maybe 30%-40% of this amount of being taken away by taxes and government mandate, all of that money could go toward paying off that student debt, which allows people to save for retirement early, perhaps it allows them to buy a home earlier, or perhaps it helps them get their family started that they have delayed because they’re paying off a massive student loan.

SENGENBERGER: [00:09:57] Yeah, but the cornerstone of this is that up to $10,000 — as I understand it — that employers and employees can put into a 401k type account that as you note, is tax free in order to help individuals pay off those loans debt.

GARDNER:  [00:10:09] That’s right. You got it.

SENGENBERGER: [00:10:11] Again, this is the Student Loan Repayment Acceleration Act. I wanted to say “reconciliation,” because of before. It’s jumping into there, it was just — you know — trying to eat away at that.

GARDNER:  [00:10:23] You can’t say that nearly enough. You know, anytime you can say it, you have got to see it.

SENGENBERGER: [00:10:26] So, I’m looking more into greater depth into that. [I] hope to have you back, down the line, to discuss it in more detail. Something else, speaking of issues of making things easier for people, is the notion of legislation that would make it easier for veterans to see health care providers outside of the V.A., something that many folks think is important, outside of the government-run system. Tell us, is that something that’s been made progress on?

GARDNER:  [00:10:56] It is. You know, the Veterans Choice Act and the improvements that we’ve made since then — of course, legislation that I continue to pursue — tries to really give veterans more options. We have an incredible V.A. system. Yes, we have to make reforms to it to make it run even better. But we’ve got an incredible V.A. system that does amazing work for our men and women who have served this country. But we also have veterans who don’t live close to a V.A. facility. Why can’t they go to their local provider and receive assistance? It should be their choice. They can, you know, drive a couple of hours to Denver if they can’t find it somewhere. Or maybe they can stay in a place like Yuma or Holyoke or somewhere else where they don’t necessarily have those opportunities. So, this would give them more flexibility, and I think it would give this country greater ability to fulfill the promises that we have made to those who have served our country.

SENGENBERGER: [00:11:47] Pretend this is a local news station on television, because we’ve got 30, 40 seconds for you, here. But Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia — you’re on the Foreign Relations Committee — how do you handicap that, at this point, Senator Gardner?

GARDNER:  [00:12:00] Well, I think — look, we have to get all the facts. But right now, the facts don’t look good. Saudi Arabia has now admitted that they did this or at least somebody did this. And maybe it was a mistake, maybe it was a fight. The CIA director is heading over to the Middle East to investigate more. The status quo can’t remain if they are indeed responsible for this, particularly if this goes to the highest level — the king or the crown prince. So, you know, this will affect our relationship. And this is going to be — we have to make sure that we are fully, fully armed with the facts to make the proper response.

SENGENBERGER: [00:12:30] Senator Cory Gardner, always a pleasure. Never enough time. Thanks for joining us this morning.

GARDNER:  [00:12:34] Thanks for having me. Thanks.