Dan Caplis Show, Cory Gardner, August 3, 2017

Show:       Dan Caplis Show

Guests:    Gardner, Cory

Link:       http://dancaplis.podbean.com/

Date:        August 3, 2017


Click Here for Audio

HOST DAN CAPLIS:  Real privilege to go to the VIP line and welcome United States Senator Cory Gardner back to 710 KNUS.  Senator, good morning! I know your time is precious. We appreciate the opportunity.


CAPLIS:  Hey, you’ve been, you know, five steps ahead on North Korea for a long time now, and now this very much appears to be coming to a head. As you know, Ambassador John Bolton has a piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning talking about the military options, given the recent ICBM, — apparently the second ICBM launch, successful launch –by North Korea. So, [I] would love to get your take on where things stand now. We see experts debating around the fringes on how advanced the North Korean program is. How advanced do you think they are right now? Do you agree with the set of experts who say they can probably hit Denver right now?

GARDNER:  Well, look. I think capacity and capability are two different things. I think they have now demonstrated, based on flight time and distance, altitude, trajectories — that math – that they could hit the – not just the states of Hawaii and the state of Alaska, but they could hit the mainland, as well. And so, this is a frightening development. Now, the question is, do they have the ability to miniaturize a weapon that would survive reentry, all of that stuff. There’s really only one way to figure that out, and that’s an unacceptable outcome. And so, what we’ve got to do is recognize a couple of things: number one, I don’t believe — we maintain all options on the table. That’s absolutely correct, the economic, diplomatic, military options on the table. But I don’t believe that we have singularly focused enough on North Korea, like we did on Iran, to bring this regime to the point of peaceful denuclearization. They are not even close to being the most sanctioned nation on the globe right now. Russia, Ukraine, Balkans continue to have more sanctions than North Korea does. They were the eighth most sanctions regime. Now, they’re the fifth most sanctioned regime. We can do better. And we have to enforce these sanctions. And we have to have the administration focus all of its efforts and resources on the enforcement of UN and US sanctions, building the global community of support like they did when they brought Iran to its knees. Unfortunately, they ended up with the joint agreement.

CAPLIS:  Yeah, Obama let them up.

GARDNER:  But we have got to do more, and I don’t think we’ve done that yet, and that’s what I will continue to push for.

CAPLIS:  What kind of sanctions would hurt enough for someone you’ve accurately described as a nutjob, Kim Jong-Un, to give up nuclear weapons, which now have turned this nut job into the focus of world attention, given him all this power, and will essentially make him untouchable once he’s perfected this ability?

GARDNER:  So, he’s got access to hard currencies, still. He is using banks in China and around the globe to process financial transactions that are getting around our financial actions we have put in place to try to block those transactions. Why? Because we haven’t put enough pressure on other nations around the globe to do more, to investigate more, to build the kind of counter-financing tools necessary in their financial systems to block these transactions. Five thousand Chinese businesses are doing business with North Korea. Ten of them are responsible for 30% of North Korea’s economy. We have got to make sure that the European Community — there are banks that are processing transactions in the European Community, right now, that benefit the Korean regime. It has got to stop! We need people from this administration — from the Treasury Department and their anti-terror financing units and their sanctions enforcement divisions to be going around the globe shaming, naming those people who aren’t complying, using diplomatic pressure to make them comply, and cutting off every avenue of resource to North Korea. They have got to cut off their oil. We have got to cut off their lifelines that are propping up the regime, and we can do so with a global community that is involved in interdicting ships, making sure that we’re intercepting shipments out, and pressuring China to do more. So, those are the kinds of things that we have got to do.

CAPLIS:  Is it fair to say that for sanctions to work, China has to be all in?

GARDNER:  China has to be all in. Look, they could — we need to make a very clear choice to China. They can either do business with the world’s largest economy, the United States, or they can do business with a madman in Pyongyang. That’s a clear choice that we need to make to the businesses in China who are violating these sanctions. I believe in the next several days, if not in a couple weeks, we will see additional sanctions being rolled out against Chinese entities who are violating United Nations resolutions as well as US sanctions. That pressure has to ratchet up. It has to continue. And then we have got to focus in a way that has not happened on North Korea yet, to do the other steps of interdicting ships, shutting off financial access, working on the human rights violations. Look, it’s estimated that somewhere between 300 million and a billion dollars comes back to North Korea through slave labor, basically, being sent out by North Korea, including building soccer stadiums in Russia for the World Cup. This is got to stop!

CAPLIS:  Mm. How much time is there for sanctions to work?

GARDNER:  So, we don’t have that much time. That’s why this has to start now. And we’ve got – if the predictions of DNI are correct, that were made public, about what they could develop next summer in terms of the capability, we don’t have much time.

CAPLIS:  Donald Trump. He strikes me, — you know him, I don’t. He strikes me as the kind of guy who is not going to kick this can down the road. The moment is now. Sanctions are either going to work or the unthinkable is going to have to be on the table, which is the military option. Is that that Donald Trump that you read?

GARDNER:  You know, I am concerned–. You know, Donald Trump talked very tough about China during the campaign. At the beginning of the year, he seemed to open the door for greater dialogue with China, took a little bit less of a big aggressive attitude toward China. Then that turned around, and it was more aggressive posture toward China. Recently we’ve seen maybe they’re stepping off of that pressure. Look, it has got to be a consistent — and maybe they’re doing things behind the scene that we don’t know about, and I hope that’s the case. But they’ve got to continue ramping up this pressure on China. That’s why, when the sanctions, if they are rolled out as I believe they will in the next, you know, days or weeks, then we’ll have the answer on what they are doing. And I hope that the answer is they’re doing what they said they would do: they’re going to China, saying, “You fix it, or else!” If they haven’t fixed it, then the “or else” happens. We put sanctions on those entities and that we start acting with the global community to force China into responsible actions with its rogue regime neighbor. So, I will continue to pressure this administration, just like that I did the last administration, to do more.

CAPLIS:  Well, I’m really glad that even as a freshman you’ve carved out this leadership role in the Senate,  because you obviously get North Korea. And I’m glad you’re having some influence, here. Let me shift for a second to healthcare. I know you don’t need me to tell you — I know you had about 6000 people on the line last night in the telephone town hall to tell you that the profound disappointment — among conservatives, among Republicans, among a lot of people — over the fact that the GOP was not able to put together a good healthcare bill and put an end to Obamacare.  So, where do we go from here? First, what’s your message to all the disappointed folks out there? And then, where do we go from here, and how quickly?
GARDNER:  Well, the bottom line is this: the status quo continues to result in higher premiums, fewer choices, less options for consumers in Colorado, and a program that I’m concerned about is growing more and more unsustainable because of the federal fiscal crisis that we face and the crunch at the state level. And so that means those people who are truly in need are going to get squeezed in a way that that I believe we should be able to avoid. So here’s what we have to continue to do – and to people who are disappointed, I understand because Colorado has already announced that they’re going to have an average rate increase in the premiums of nearly 30%!


GARDNER:  It’s unacceptable! That’s on top of the 30% last year, and 30% the year before!

CAPLIS:  Yeah.

GARDNER:  And so, we still have to find a way to change the status quo to replace the Affordable Care Act with something that’s going to work. Yes, I’d love to see this be a bipartisan accomplishment. And I hope it is, because I hope people who are such strong defenders of the Affordable Care Act will admit, “Can’t we do it better?” And “better” means that we go in and we replace it with something that builds stability in the insurance marketplace, that creates opportunities like risk pools that give more consumers more choice, while protecting people with pre-existing conditions, that gives the states more ability to present to consumers insurance that they may want to buy, that lets the states make decisions in programs like Medicaid that they are denied from making right now — give them waiver authorities – and the ability to construct a program that works for Coloradans. Because what works in Colorado may not work in Connecticut. What works in Connecticut may not work in Colorado. So those are the kinds of things that we have to address. I was told by certain healthcare experts — some healthcare experts – that some of the provisions we have worked on would dramati – would greatly stabilize the marketplace, that would result in lower costs. We’ve seen analysis from HHS that it would reduce cost. And so, you know, I understand some people have really benefited from the Affordable Care Act. Well, can’t we make it so that more people benefit? That’s the important thing.

CAPLIS:  Right. And before I get to a final a couple of closing questions on this one thing I’d love to do sometime if you have time is is have an extended segment where we talk about in more detail. Some of those specific things that could be done that would lower costs, etc. because I know you to be a very smart, very well informed person I know you’ve thought about this. I know you thought beyond this skinny repeal option. And you’ve thought to bigger, broader, bold proposals to, you know, reshape the provision of healthcare in a much better way. And I’d love to have the chance to go into that in more detail sometime. And, uh –.

GARDNER:  Well, I think that you know, that’s the conversation that we should all be having because, you know, so many of the ideas it could do such a better job than we have right now. I mean, we had a conversation yesterday on association health plans, where you could put millions of people who may not have access — or affordable access — to the individual marketplace right now, in a group plan that they are otherwise denied from because they can’t — their employers don’t offer it. And so, just — excuse me, — there are employers who don’t offer it, or for whatever reason, they can’t get into it because of affordability issues with their families. And so, there are things that we can do that would provide opportunities to access their insurance in a much more affordable way.  And gosh, I just think we can do better. And status quo, it’s going to hurt – continue to hurt — the people of this country.

CAPLIS:  Where are you at on the President — it appears to be his current position—of, “Okay,” you know, “Let’s let Obamacare fail and then Democrats will be forced to come to the table to help reshape something else.” Is that the right approach, now?

GARDNER:  Look, I think we’ve got to fix this. We can’t let this continue to hurt the American people. I want to make sure people come to the table — Republicans and Democrats — because they know it’s the right thing to do. That’s what I will continue to look for, because they know that double-digit premium increases, a collapsing individual insurance market rate, sustainable programs – incredibly important, vital safety net programs – that are unsustainable, that’s not good. And we can’t just continue to have people harmed by that. So that’s why I hope people come together before that happens.

CAPLIS:  Final two questions, Senator. Again, thank you for your time this morning. As I understand this — correct me if I’m wrong – we’re in a situation right now where the Democrats are yapping about, “Hey, let’s be bipartisan! This and that.” But it appears to me that Democrats will never accept any kind of healthcare bill that does away with the individual mandate, does away with the employer mandate. Am I reading that right or are they open to that?

GARDNER:  Well, I think that is a big question. It doesn’t sound–  I think they’ve drawn some pretty significant redlines in reforms, but that’s what I hope conversations will have, in terms of the next several months, that we get to an understanding of what we can do to find that solution. I mean, I don’t think it’s right that the government can mandate –. That’s the least popular feature, the most repugnant feature of the Affordable Care Act is this mandate that is the government telling you what you have to do. So, and you if you look at the numbers that people cite about insurance levels, well, it was because most people are making a choice — their own choice — of what to do with their insurance. And so, I think that’s got to be the part of the discussion. And, you know, just like in the tax debate, I think there were 45 Democrats yesterday who signed a letter to Senator McConnell, basically drawing redlines already on tax reform. And it’s frustrating that you have people who talk about pro-growth economic policies, but then refused to get there.

CAPLIS:  Final question, blank slate, across the board: Anything going on back there that the people of Colorado really need to be focused on, they may not be hearing a lot about right now? Because I know these other big issues are drowning out a lot.

GARDNER:  You know, yesterday — this week, we passed some very significant Veterans Affairs bills. We authorized $3 billion worth of extensions for the G.I. bill for veterans. This is an incredible step forward. We extended and expanded the choice act — the Veterans Choice Act. That was something that came out of the scandal at the VAs, waitlists and dying because they weren’t being seen through appointments. And so this week I sent a wait times that are four times the national average.

CAPLIS:  Jeez.

GARDNER:  So, these are all things that we’ve got to fix These are all things that have gotten bipartisan support to fix, and we’ve actually made some positive steps sending them to the President’s desk this week.

CAPLIS:  Well, Senator, [I] appreciate the time. Thank you so much.

GARDNER:  Thank you, Dan!

CAPLIS:  Take care! That’s Sen. Cory Gardner.  […]