Ross Kaminsky Show, Cory Gardner, November 1, 2017

Station:    KHOW, 630 am

Show:       Ross Kaminsky Show

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:        November 1, 2017


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HOST ROSS KAMINSKY:  Now, we are expecting in a few minutes — or in a few moments — to be joined by Senator Cory Gardner, who as you know is Chairman of the Republican National Senatorial committee. Cory’s job is to get Republicans elected to the United States Senate. And Republicans have a heck of a lot being bet on tax reform. And so when Cory joins us, we are going to talk primarily about tax reform.  And I think we have got my friend Cory on our VIP line right now. Good morning, Cory. How are you?


UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM COLORADO AND CHAIR OF THE NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE, CORY GARDNER:  Good morning, Ross. I’m doing well, given the pretty tragic day yesterday [referring to the New York City truck attack].

KAMINSKY: Yes. And before we get to our primary topic of tax reform, I just wanted to ask you a somewhat open-ended question: what’s your reaction, beyond horror, as to what happened yesterday?  What are you thinking about?

GARDNER:  Well, beyond just the utter disgust with any kind of terror act like this, and the prayers for the people of New York and our country who have suffered this and who are all in this together, it once again shows us that our fight against terrorism is not over. The fall of the caliphate in Rocca, the success we’ve had against ISIS so far, that is good. But it still shows there are people with hate in their hearts who are willing to do horrible things to the people of this country because of the ideology that they represent and the beliefs and values that we represent. And it has to stop, and we must continue this fight.

KAMINSKY: I have only one political-ish question for you regarding what happened yesterday. There’s a lot of talk, especially in the conservative side of media, about this being the exactly the reason that we should eliminate the Diversity Visa Program under which this guy got into the country. Do you have any thoughts on that, at this point?

GARDNER:  Well, that’s going to be a huge point of discussion, here. I mean, I’m looking at the website for the [Presumably quoting the website] Diversity Visa Program, makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries, to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States [presumably, end quote] This is going to be under a lot of scrutiny. And again, when you wonder why people are coming into this country, I think it adds to the debate of merit. It adds to the debate of, you know, lotteries. It adds to the debate of vetting. We need to know who’s coming in this country and whether they’re safe. And that’s the first and foremost priority.

KAMINSKY: Yeah, you know, I think you and I are probably of fairly similar view on immigration, overall, which is to say, not the furthest right immigration hawk types of people. But when I think of the Diversity Visa right now, and how diverse the Unite—and I’m someone who loves diversity in cultures and all that. But it’s very hard for me to see an argument that could win me over as to why that should stay.

GARDNER:  Well, and I think that’s going to be a big, big focus, right here. And you know, particularly when we need to know who’s coming into this country –. I mean, look! There are debates about immigration. We need to have debates about immigration in this country! –you know, what the right labor force is. if farmers who need help, you know, the ski resorts in Colorado who need help. But the bottom line is, people in this country, we need to make sure that they are safe for this country. And that’s something we have got to focus on each and every moment.

KAMINSKY: Right now, the Republican Party has a lot bet on tax reform. And in addition to your being Senator from Colorado, you also head the National Republican Senatorial Committee. So it is your responsibility, more than almost anybody else in the United States –or maybe I can remove the word ‘almost’ — to make sure that Republicans get reelected or elected to the U.S. Senate. How important is it to you, in that context, that Republicans pass, and the President sign, tax reform?

GARDNER:  Well, I think what’s important, in terms of the success of this Congress, is to do what we said we would do. And that is to pass tax relief on to the American people — hard-working families who haven’t seen wage increases for the last eight years who can actually see tax relief put more dollars in their pockets. The average American household could see an increase in wages of $4000 under this tax proposal — the relief that we put forward. And if we do that, then people are going to see those people who did that, and support them. And that’s going to be very critical to this this country’s success: the people who are better off tomorrow than they are today. That’s what this entire fight is about. It has nothing to do with politics. [It] has everything to do with policies of those who are willing to make sure that our — the American people are better off tomorrow than they are today.

KAMINSKY: Is it safe to assume that reform will include a corporate tax rate not higher than 20%?

GARDNER:  You know, I think it’s important that we drive that down. And I think that’s the number that a lot of people are saying, hey, we shouldn’t exceed, and what does that mean? And that we also lower, not just that rate, but also the rate on pass-throughs, like individual businesses, sole proprietorship’s, LLCs, those kinds of things. If we do that, that’s going to drive wage growth. And we’ve seen that in the economic analysis from economists around the country, because the overall burden of taxes that a corporation pays are paid for by — guess who — the workers, people who suffered through lower wages as a result of a higher tax burden. And so, if you see — if you look at the statute, if you look at the list of nations around the globe who have a lower statutory tax rate, they actually have a higher wage increase over the past several years because of that lower tax rate. So this will directly benefit American workers, middle-class families, hard-working families in the form of higher wages.

KAMINSKY: So, I’m nowhere near earning in the top — you know — .1%. But I believe that — and you know this well, Cory — the top the top 5% of earners in America pay twice as much income tax — twice as much! — as the bottom 90% of earners combined. And it frustrates me, no end, to hear that the Republicans may leave that 39.6% tax rate in place, even if it does get moved up — the income threshold gets moved up to
$750,000, or a million, or somewhere in there. Why don’t we have more people arguing — more Republicans arguing — that everybody deserves a tax break, even if you’re quote, unquote ‘rich’?

GARDNER:  Well, I think what you’re going to see is that debated very intensely, now, in the House bill because it does sound like the House side is going to keep that provision in place — the top bracket in place.  At least, that was in the news reports today. We’ll find out later today when that bill is actually released if that’s the case. But that’s going to be a focus of intense debate. No doubt the Senate will be releasing its legislation soon on its version of the bill. But you know, I think when you — when you’re faced with a country like ours – in a system like ours, that has an uncompetitive tax system, I do think we have to have comprehensive tax relief. And that’s not just the, you know, here or there, but that’s taking a look at the entire system, and saying, “How can we do this better?” And I believe most of the benefit will inure to the middle-class families and hard-working families because it’s going to result in greater economic growth, more hiring, better jobs, better wages. And that’s what we have to focus on, are those wages that are created by, in many cases, those facing the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

KAMINSKY: Yeah, and look, I get that. And I also understand the politics and how we have to talk about – or, you have to talk about the hard-working middle-class and all that. And look, I make a middle-class wage. And you, as a Senator, you don’t make big money, and I don’t think it’s a big secret that you don’t come from big money, right? You’re not born with a silver spoon in your mouth, yourself. And yet, I just wish there would be more Republicans out there saying, “Look, that rich guy,” unless he inherited $100 million or whatever, “Is working hard, too!”  And just because he makes, you know, $400,000 and someone else makes $40,000, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give the $400,000 guy a tax break. I wish more people would make that point. Anyway –

GARDNER:  Well, I’ll just say this, Ross: I don’t think anybody is going to argue that the members of Congress are underpaid! [laughs]

KAMINSKY: Right! [laughing] Good point! Now, let’s talk about the politics of it for a second. We saw what happened with healthcare. We’re already getting noises from Susan Collins — sounding like her usual liberal self – that, you know, she doesn’t want anyone who makes a lot of money to get any kind of break. Do you think you can get enough Republicans to do it without Democrats?. And if ‘no’, do you think you can get Manchin, or Heitkamp, or someone like that?

GARDNER:  So, I think this is a case where, if it passes, it will pass with bipartisan support. If it fails, it will fail because Senator Schumer has led intense obstruction to this tax relief effort. And so, I do think it will pass with bipartisan support. I do think we’ll pick up a number of supporters — both sides the aisle — who believe that – and what –. And look, this goes back to what Senator – er, excuse me –then-President Obama said in 2011. President Obama, in the State of the Union address, [in] a joint session of Congress, before the American people said, “The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world and it’s unfair. If you have lawyers and accountants to get around it, you can. But nobody else can, if you don’t have that kind of money. So, let’s lower that. Let’s flatten out the code. Let’s be competitive again.” That’s what President Obama said! So this is not a – at least, it didn’t used to be — a Republican-only effort to grow the economy. It used to have both sides of the aisle involved. And so, I think at the end of the day when the bill passes, it will pass with bipartisan support. And I do believe it will pass.

KAMINSKY: I’ll tell you what, Cory, ‘bipartisan support’ on a tax bill scares the hell out of me, because what that says to me is it’s going to be bad. It’s going to be a bill that’s not nearly as good as it good be. And it’s going to include all kinds of stuff, like this terrible increase in the child tax credit, which, you know, my friend Mike Lee — who I think is awesome — this is his worst idea! And, oh! – I am just — I am so scared when you tell me we’re going to have a bipartisan bill. Because Democrats and taxes are just–.

GARDNER:  Well, I think that will happen when it passes. I don’t know that they’re going to help us get there. So, I wish they would! I actually think that if they’d do what Chuck Schumer said years ago, if they’d do what Barack Obama said years ago, we’d end up with lower tax rates. They supported it then. Unfortunately, now, in this sort of divided electorate, they think they have to obstruct at all costs.

KAMINSKY: Well, they support it on the corporate side, but not on the personal side.


KAMINSKY: Um, anyway, I’m glad you’re optimistic. I do think we need to do something. And I do think that the short-term future of the Republican Party has a lot at stake on whether something gets done. So, I wish you lots of luck out there, Cory!

GARDNER:  Well thank you, Ross. And I hope everybody had a good Halloween last night.
And we got a little bit of snow in Yuma, early morning yesterday, so hopefully that didn’t dampen too many ghoulish fun out there last night.

KAMINSKY: Oh, it was great, here! What were your kids’ costumes?

GARDNER:  You know, our son was an astronaut, and our daughter was Queen Elsa, which we have now memorized every song from Frozen that you can imagine.

KAMINSKY: [laughs]

GARDNER:  So, — and our daughter went as a teenager. Our teenage daughter went as a teenager [laughs].


KAMINSKY: [laughing] Knowing every song from Frozen – I’m not sure if that’s heaven or hell.

GARDNER:  [laughs]

KAMINSKY: But anyway, that’s parenthood! Isn’t it, Cory?

GARDNER:  Let it go, Ross! Let it go!

KAMINSKY: Yeah! Right! “Let it go!” Oh, great! I’m going to be singing that in my head for the rest of the day, Cory!

GARDNER:  [laughs] [inaudible] your listeners!

KAMINSKY: All right. Thanks, Cory! Thanks for being here!

GARDNER:  Thank you, Ross. Take care!

KAMINSKY: All right, see ya!