Kelley & Co, Mike Coffman, April 23, 2012

Station:   710 AM, KNUS

Show:     Kelley and Company

Guest:     Coffman


Date:      April 23, 2012

Topics:    Budget, U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Election, Vice President, Nominee, , Blakeman, Rubio, Ryan, Cantor, Jindal, Army Brigade Withdrawl, Western Europe, NATO, Afghanistan, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Northern Alliance, Nation Building,



STEVE KELLEY:  Congressman Mike Coffman asked for a little bit of time this morning here, and certainly we’ll give that to him.  Talk about this proposal,… by the way, good morning, Congressman!


STEVE KELLEY:  We haven’t spoken with you in a while.  How’s everything going?

REP. COFFMAN:  It’s going good!

STEVE KELLEY:  Okay.  You guys seem to be… ah, you’re frutstrating a lot of people, though.  I say “you” generally.  It’s like, “Is anybody… is there ever going to be a budget again in the United… in Washington D.C..

REP. COFFMAN:  Well, it’s funny.  It’s been over a thousand days and the Senate hasn’t passed a budget.

STEVE KELLEY:  It’s crazy!

REP. COFFMAN:  Yes, it is.

STEVE KELLEY:  So, how do you feel being in that bunch back there, that basically has, what, a nine to thirteen percent approval rating.  Everyobody wants you fired!

REP. COFFMAN:  Well, you know, the House passed a responsible budget that puts this country in the direction toward a balanced budget. And the Senate has not passed a budget since I’ve been in the Congress, and I think it’s because they don’t… they think the American people are too stupid to know if they don’t pass a budget they won’t figure out how big the deficit is.

STEVE KELLEY:  You know, it really is amazing.  I believe you hit in on the head, Congressman.  They think we are so stupid.  Well, I don’t know.  Are we that stupid?

REP. COFFMAN:  I hope not.  I think we’ll find out in this election.  It’s going to be a referendum on the existing policies and whether or not they want to continue with this president, and whether or not they want to continue with a Democratic controlled senate, or go in the other direction.  And so I think this election is really going to set the path for this country.  And this country is really at a tipping point.  And I fear for the future of this country.  But I’ve got faith in the American people and I hope they make the right decision on election day.

STEVE KELLEY:  We’ll talk about these brigades you’re talking about in Western Europe, the primary reason you came on here in a second, but it looks … well, it’s pretty clear, it’s Romney.  Right?


STEVE KELLEY:  Okay, so given that, Brad Blakeman who was a senior advisor to George Bush – you may know Brad earlier said, “Hey, he should pick this VP in the next two months, if not earlier, and get him out there and start working it out.”  Who should be his vice-presidential nominee?

REP. COFFMAN:  You know, I think there are a number of people.  I think Mark Rubio, though he’s said repeatedly he’s not interested, he’s certainly a possibility.  As a United States senator, I think he’d make a good vice-president. I think on (inaudible—my side?) Paul Ryan I think would make a great vice president.  I think Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana would be good.  And I think Erick Cantor, the majority leader in the House of Representatives.  So I think they’ve got a pretty deep bench on the Republican side.

STEVE KELLEY:  Okay.  Now, with the time we’ve got, what’s … you’re proposing we withdraw four army brigades out of western Europe.  What’s that all about?

REP. COFFMAN:  Well, that would be our ground presence right now as it is left in western Europe.  We have four army brigade combat teams.  And I served… that was my first military assignment.  I’ve had five overseas assignments in my career and that was my first one, with the 1st Army Division of the United States Army, before I transferred to the Marine Corps.  And you know, we had a real live mission there in the 1970s where you know, we were responsible for protecting the borders in case the Soviet Union and their Warsaw Pact allies decided to invade.  And they had a substantial military presence right on the other side of those borders.  And we were in permanent basis in western Europe and we [inaudible] to those borders – a real, live mission.  That mission has been gone since 1989, yet we still have 79,000 military personnel in western Europe.  They previously agreed to spend at least two percent of their economy on their defense.  Most of them have fallen below… most of the European countries that are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have fallen below that two percent, while we’re spending four-point-seven percent.  And I …

STEVE KELLEY:  So, this is an effort to help cut costs on Defense?

REP. COFFMAN:  Well, absolutely.  It’s an effort.  But I think… You know what, if we had a balanced budget today, and we had no pressures on cutting Defense, I would be advocating for this.  Because what this has caused, the Europeans see us as their guarantor for their security, and not as allies.  So, they’ve cut their defense budgets back  to  the point where they’ve just got hollow military forces, where they’re incapable of doing very much at all.  And so they… and I think the only way they’re going to get up to that restructure where they have an effective military, they can truly be allies to the United States is if we stop being the guarantor of their security.  There’s nothing in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization charter that says we have to maintain permanent military bases in Europe, and so it’s about time we take the ground component out of there.

STEVE KELLEY:  Well, here, and this flew under everybody’s radar as far as I could tell, over the weekend, here.  We just cut a ten year deal with Afghanistan, after our troops have withdrawed at the end of 2014.  This is a ten year deal, where we basically…. What are we doing there, Congressman?

REP. COFFMAN:  Well I think that we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.  I think what the Bush administration did initially was great.  We gave air advisory logistical support to the Northern Alliance, who were the anti-Taliban forces after we were attacked by Al Qaeda and the Taliban controlled much of the country, gave them safe harbor.  That Northern Alliance pushed them out.  Pushed them out.  Won the battle on the ground.  And we had this idealistic vision of Afghanistan, so we superim …  we push the victors of the ground aside, superimpose the political process that gave them the government we wanted them to have, that just doesn’t fit the country.

STEVE KELLEY:  Well, I’ll tell you what, though.  There are a lot of  … there are millions of women, though, in Afghanistan, that were appreciative of that.  Now, it’s back to the old school.  Actually,  the old school is no school if you’re a woman.

REP. COFFMAN:  You know, I think that there are a lot of cultural problems that we certainly differ with here in this country.  But I think we have to ask the question, “What is in our security interests in Afghanistan?”  And I think it’s keeping the Taliban out, keeping Al Qaeda out, being able to have some kind of presence where we can do counter-terrorism missions, particularly in Pakistan, like the killing of Osama bin Laden.  And so …

STEVE KELLEY:  But you can’t change a culture…

REP. COFFMAN:  …what’s realistic to achieve… You know, this nation building stuff, we’ve got to get off that.  It is simply too much for this country.  The notion that we’re going to, you know, invade, pacify, administer whole countries, that we’re going to change their culture, that we’re going to give them the economy they never had, at taxpayers expense, and give them a governance that doesn’t fit the political culture of the country, we’ve got to be more realistic in our foreign policy.  And so, it’s going to require a new direction.

STEVE KELLEY:  Wisely said.  All right, so what about your proposal?  And how far is this going to go, in the forty-five seconds we’ve got left here.  Pull… Are you threatening to pull the troops?  Or…

REP. COFFMAN:  Oh, no, no, no, no!  This is an amendment I will offer on May 3rd  in the House Armed Services Committee on the National Defense Authorization Bill.   This is uh, … I really want to make this happen, and if it fails then I obviously want to try it on the floor again.  But I think it’s absolutely important to do this.

STEVE KELLEY:  All right.  Very good.  Hey, listen, Congressman from the 6th district of Colorado, of course — Mike Coffman.  Thanks very much for all your time.

REP. COFFMAN:  Hey, thanks for having me.

STEVE KELLEY:  Appreciate you popping on, anytime, sir! Have a good one!  And stir it up there, will ya?   When you get back there, shake ‘em up a little bit!