Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn on the tax deal compromise
HH: Joined now by Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado. Congressman, welcome, great to have you on the program.
DL: Hugh, it’s always good to talk to you and your great listeners.
HH: Now is it correct that you are going to go on the Appropriations Committee?
DL: I’m giving it my best shot. We need some deficit and budget hawks on that committee.
HH: Well, congratulations. I talked to Jeff Flake yesterday, and he told me that the 5th district was going to be well represented on that committee. Before we go to what you’re going to do with Flake on the Appropriations Committee, let’s talk about this deal that is pending. Jeff Flake is a hard no against it. What’s Doug Lamborn think about the deal negotiated between the President and the GOP?
DL: Well, I don’t know all the details yet, Hugh. To me, it’s a 70/30 split, 70% good, 30% bad. And is that worth accepting when we could shoot for 100% in January? But of course, we’ll have a Senate still led by Harry Reid, and we have a White House still led by Barack Obama that might dig their heels in. So that’s the dilemma that we’re in right now. I’m evaluating it. I’m happy to talk about the details. The House liberals are just, they’re fit to be tied, Hugh. They’re balking right now, digging in their heels, and we may not even have any deal at all, because the liberals are so mad at the President.
HH: Now Congressman Lamborn, I spoke this morning, I know you had great support from the Tea Parties in Colorado. And I spoke this morning with two of the senior Tea Party Patriot leaders, who are apoplectic. They are beside themselves that the Congress negotiated this in secret, it’s still not posted, it feels like Obamacare. They think it breaks the deal in the Pledge To America on any number of fronts. Are you hearing from the Tea Party people about this deal?
DL: I am not, Hugh, and I’m happy to hear from everybody. We’ve received about twelve calls in my office so far today, and that’s about it so far.
HH: Pro or con?
DL: 75% con, 25% pro.
HH: Yeah, what they told me this morning in this conference call is that they’re just getting on track, that it takes them a while to figure out how to do this, because they are so grass roots. But I think if you watch those incoming…in terms of the estate tax, that’s one of the things on the substantive side. On the procedural side, they just hate the fact that it’s still not posted. Does that bother you, Congressman?
DL: Oh, for sure. We need to move toward transparency and accountability, absolutely.
HH: Okay, and so how long do you think it ought to be up for the American people to judge it once it’s actually agreed to, if the House Democrats agree to anything. You’re right. They may walk away from the whole deal.
DL: Well yeah, then we’re back to square one. I’d like three days, 72 hours for anything of consequence.
HH: Okay, well I think that would be a good step towards restoring their faith in it. Now let’s talk about the estate tax. Right now, it’s at zero. Should people kill themselves in the next two weeks to avoid 35% above $5 million, Doug Lamborn?
DL: Well, and you know, it goes up to a million dollar at a 55% rate on January 1st if nothing is done. And so I guess to me, I’m still trying to decide. Is the cup half empty, or is the cup half full?
HH: Where are you leaning?
DL: Well, what I mean by that is it goes up to 55% on January 1st for anything over a million. This deal that Mitch McConnell negotiated with Barack Obama says $5 million, and then you start at 35% after that. So that’s much better than today, but it’s not as good as zero. I would want zero. And if we have everything fall apart, obviously we’re going to shoot for elimination of the death tax once and for all. Now whether we can get that through the Senate is anyone’s guess. But that would be my ideal tax rate.
HH: Yeah, I think what you meant to say it’s much better than what will be the law on January 1st unless it changes. Right now, it’s zero, right? The estate tax is at zero.
DL: Yeah, and it is slated, because it was just a one year window, it is slated to go back up to its initial high rate that it used to be several years ago on January 1st.
HH: See, and that’s why I think we have such leverage. And I don’t know who did the negotiating for the House, or if you guys just turned it all over to Mitch McConnell, but I certainly hope you get in there and push hard for starting over, because it seems to me that it’s a disaster for our party.
DL: Well Hugh, the House wasn’t even involved in that, and that is part of our problem. We’re kind of spectators at this point. I mean, the Democrats are real spectators, but we’re spectators, too.
HH: Now I quoted from the Pledge To America over at Hughhewitt.com, that the Congress pledged permanently to stop all job-killing tax hikes, to act immediately to reduce spending, to cut government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, to read the bill, and to advance legislative issues one at a time. It seems to me like the deal, as it’s been outlined, violates all five of those pledges.
DL: Well, there are real problems there. You pointed them out. It’s interesting, Club For Growth, I highly respect, they’re against it. Americans For Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, they’re for it.
HH: And but again, the Pledge is the Pledge. That’s what worries me, is that our Tea Party friends are going to conclude they can’t trust the Republicans, Doug Lamborn, as a result of this. That’s what worries me the most.
DL: Well that is a valuable thing to preserve. I would not want to see that happen. I want to hear from Tea Party folks, to make sure that if that’s people’s conviction, that’s going to weigh heavily with me.
HH: Now let’s turn to the Appropriations Committee. You’ve taken, you’ve gotten out of the frying pan, you’re in the fire now. Which subcommittees are you going to be on yet? Has that been decided?
DL: No. Like I say, today we’ll know for sure the population of the committees. That hasn’t even been decided, or the number on the committees. They may change a little bit. That’s another issue. But I want to be, like I really want to be involved in energy and the environment. I want to take an axe to the EPA. They are doing things like calling carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant, they’re rewriting all the air pollution laws. Just when industry makes huge investments and meets their current standards, they move the goal posts again to technology that doesn’t even exist. So the EPA is out of control, and that’s a huge job killer in our country.
HH: That would be a great bit of news for the rational people if Doug Lamborn was on the Energy And Environment Subcommittee. Would that also give you control of the purses for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
DL: Yeah, they’re involved in that, too. The Department of Interior/EPA.
HH: And I think, at least it used to be in the old days, they also had the NEH and the NEA, didn’t they?
DL: I don’t know, Hugh, to be honest.
HH: Yeah, I think in the old days, they did. Well, that would be great if you had oversight on Fish & Wildlife Service, and the NEA and the NEH. What’s your position on funding for NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Doug Lamborn?
DL: Well Hugh, a couple of days ago, I sent a letter to GAO. I know Barton and Burgess have done the same thing themselves, asking them to do an audit, a thorough audit of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and NPR, saying how do they get their money, and where does it flow. They have no transparency. You can look at their books, and on the one hand, Hugh, they’ll say oh, we only get two percent of our budget, so we’re not a big user of federal money. But then they turn around and say well, if you cut our budget, we’re going to collapse. They want to have it both ways, and you look at their books, you can’t tell how much money they get from the federal government. It’s very obscure.
HH: Good luck in taking the axe to that. Doug Lamborn from the 5th district in Colorado. Congratulations, good service on Appropriations.
End of interview.