Representative Diane Black, Chairman of the House Budget Committee and candidate for governor of Tennessee, joined me this AM:
HH: I’m joined by Chairman Black, Congressman Black of course from Tennessee. She’s going to be the next governor of the Volunteer State as well. I believe that’s official now, isn’t it, Congressman Black?
DB: It is. Eight weeks ago, we declared.
HH: All right, so that makes you doubly important to my show. Not only are you the chair of the Budget Committee, now you’re going to be the governor of Tennessee. And we need Peyton Manning to come up and take over the Cleveland Browns. When you see him, can you urge that on him?
DB: I will definitely let him know that that’s what you want him to do.
HH: All right. Let’s get serious. I had a caller this morning, or actually, Charlie Cook asked me are the Republicans going to vote money for disaster relief. And now, we have another enormous disaster, the fifth in five weeks – Harvey, Irma, Maria, then the Las Vegas massacre, now this devastation in California. What’s the Budget Committee doing about that, Congressman Black?
DB: You know, we’re waiting to get the numbers back for, from the White House on just what do these disasters look like as far as us funding them. I really believe, Hugh, that we have got to do a better job of putting money away. There’s got to be a rainy day fund for these kinds of disasters. And I know we have a formula that we use about a ten year rolling period, but you know, not always do disasters hit on the timeline that you have there. And I think we’ve got to do a better job at looking back and saying what do we need to put away for these rainy days rather than waiting for it to happen and then make that determination. And I know in the break while I was listening and coming back on, these disasters that are happening with the wildfires out in the Northwest, and that’s not something that we normally even look at as being part of that disaster funding. Yeah, these hurricanes and devastation because of hurricanes and tornados, but there’s also this piece with the wildfires. So I do believe we’ve got to do a better job in having a rainy day fund for disasters.
HH: I agree, but in the immediate here and now, do you see the Congress voting the billions, and I do believe it’s billions. I believe it’s billions for Puerto Rico. I believe it’s billions in Houston and Florida. But I know California. They haven’t even got water supply in Santa Rosa. That’s a broke state. You know, that state’s out of money, Diane Black. Does the Congress help them?
DB: Well, I think we have to help the people there. What we need to do, and we’re doing that in the tax reform, is to say hey, states, get your act together, because when you’re a state that’s not operating well and you’re broke, you cannot continue to ask the other states that don’t have the high taxes, and don’t have the high income tax and property tax that you do, and then you deduct that, and we can talk a little bit about tax reform and how we believe that it needs to be a fairer situation, and let the states, because look, I live in a state where we are a low tax state. We’re, I think, 45th or 50th in the nation in per capita burden on taxes, and we do really, really well here. If it can be done here, it can be done in other states as well.
HH: Well, that does bring me to the major portion of the tax reform is two big items I’ve identified – the elimination of the state and local tax deduction, and the subchapter S corporation cut. Let’s take them in reverse order. I had the Speaker on my MSNBC show on Saturday, and he brought up Aaron Rodgers and said we want his salary to be taxed at the regular level. And I replied, every athlete I know of at that level is going to have a subchapter S corporation. Do we really need to give LeBron James a tax cut from 39.6 to 25%, Chairman Black?
DB: Yeah, yeah, well, we, we can have a lot of discussion about that. There is still discussion taking place on that. I think what we’re really looking at is those small businesses that are, do struggle, and we do have small businesses that need that relief. And to have them paying at the highest corporate rate when, or paying at the highest tax rate is probably not a fair thing for them when we look at corporations. And so look, they’re the same arguments with some of my friends saying well, just let them decide then to be a corporation and everybody will be treated equal. There is something to be said about that as well in the way in which you form. But when we look at folks that are in that particular situation, I do think that’s another discussion for us to have.
HH: Well, but I am curious about how do we get there. I’ve been a subchapter S corporation since 1990. So I’m very happy if you change my rates, okay? I’m all for that. But I am curious about when are we going to actually see the fine print, because people can’t debate this until they actually see the bill. And if you guys are going to do this in this year, we need to see a bill in a hurry.
DB: Yeah, we do, and that’s the reason why it is so important for us to go ahead and get our tax, or excuse me, our budget done, because that really is, as you know, and your listeners know, this is the vehicle. It is the launching ramp for us to be able to put a plan out there so we can actually start debating the tax plan. And that’s not going to happen until after we get this budget resolution done, because it is the launching pad. Next comes the actual language of the tax reform.
HH: Well, is the budget resolution passed in the House now?
DB: It is passed. It is done in the House.
HH: Okay, and so the Senate…the Senate needs to do it now, right?
DB: We’re waiting for the Senate to do it. And then we will go to conference, because obviously, there are big differences between theirs and ours.
HH: And so what is the anticipated schedule for that? I tried to get, the Speaker ran out of time, because he had to go congratulate you on passing your budget when I sat down with him, and then, so you killed my interview, Chairman Black. But I’m not bitter. I’m not bitter. But he got out there, he congratulated, when do you get it back? When does that conference get done?
DB: Well, we want the Senate to do their work. And look, I’m going to say that I’m very disappointed in the Senate. The Senate has not done their work. They need to do their work immediately. If we can do our work, and we’ve been working on this for almost seven months to get our budget out, they should have had them working on it and done the same thing. But they need to get their work done so that we can get this moving, because we really do want to do this by the end of the year.
HH: Have you talked to Bob Corker about this, because he’s been in the news a lot, but not about getting the budget done?
DB: I have not talked to him recently about this. He’s, he and I don’t see each other very frequently, because we are on opposite sides of the Capitol. But I have not spoken to him specifically about the budget. I do meet with Senator Enzi on a weekly basis, and talk with him, because he is the chairman of the Budget Committee. So we do meet together, and I let him know what’s going on, on our side, and he lets me know. And he would love to be able to get this done very rapidly. That’s dependent on McConnell and what he tells his people that we’re going to do. We’re going to bring it up and put it to a vote. Let’s do it.
HH: All right, now let’s throw some tough questions at you. You’re running for governor. What do you make of Senator Corker’s criticisms of President Trump?
DB: I’m not sure that those kinds of things in the media really help us to get to where we need to be. Look, if you talk about an adult daycare center, I’m sorry, but I think the Senate is an adult daycare center. They can’t get anything done over there. We have been waiting for repeal and replace. We voted for it 60 times, and you tell me you can’t give me a product to at least give to us so we can go to conference? You know, I think that is the adult daycare center. But I’m not sure that all of this throwing these words back and forth to one another are really very helpful. And I think the American people don’t really appreciate the way people that are supposed to be in charge of this country are acting. Those types of conversations can take place behind closed doors if they want to talk that way to one another.
HH: Do you, now I want to ask another question. Tennessee Titans near and dear to a lot of people, what’s your position on standing up for the flag?
DB: Well, I would tell you I have four PSL’s. I have had them since the Titans came to town. I actually did not miss a single game when they were in Memphis and we were building a stadium for them. But my four tickets are in the drawer, and they will stay in the drawer. My seats will stay empty until we have an appreciation of our flag, our men and women who fight for this country, and for what this flag stands for. And so I am disgusted with the whole NFL. I applaud Jerry Jones for what he’s doing, and I think all the owners should do that. And I think Goodell’s job should be pulled.
HH: You know, I’ve got four personal seat licenses at First Energy in Cleveland, and I give them away, because I don’t get to go very often, and my team’s won one game in two years, so it’s not like I’m missing much. But I have a different view on everything about this, except the flag. I don’t want boycotts, Congressman Black. Let the players say whatever they want. I just think you have to stand up for the flag. Is that, do you mind players being political off the field?
DB: Not at all. They have every right to be political off of the field, every right. But I’m going to bring up this. You know, Roger Goodell told one of the players that he couldn’t wear a pair of socks that had a Bible verse on it, because that wasn’t part of the uniform, and it wasn’t part of the team, and it wasn’t part of the league. And now, we’re allowing an expression such as this, and then we’re applauding it? You know, I don’t understand that. I really don’t. And then I’m not, I pay a lot of money to go see them, not only the tickets, but the food that I buy and so on and so forth. And I think do your job, please. I come there to watch you play football. I don’t come there to listen or see you degrade our country. And so if you want to do that, I don’t care. Do it off of the field, and then I can make that decision about whether I like what you stand for. But I am coming there to pay to see a show. I’m not coming there to…
HH: Are they really degrading the country, Representative Black, when they don’t stand up for the National Anthem?
DB: Absolutely, they are. Absolutely, they are. And I am, I’m appalled that it has continued to allowed to be happening, and I think the American people are letting their voice be heard. I know that the stadium out there in San Francisco was half empty this last week.
HH: Do you believe the people of Tennessee will support that as you campaign for governor?
DB: I think they will. I’ve already seen that we’ve got, here in our stadium, a voice that’s being said we don’t want this. Our stadium is, was half empty, and I think that you will see that continuing to happen. And my PSL’s, as I say, will stay in the drawer. I’ve had people asking for them, and I say no. I want those seats to be empty.
HH: Next time, keep coming back, Diane Black. You’re going to be a great governor of Tennessee. I hope we both get to see the Browns and the Titans in a playoff game soon.
End of interview.