Live from Music Row, Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Congressman David Kustoff to the newsmaker line to describe what he see’s as top priorities should Republicans take the House and Senate and how to push legislation through with a Democratic president.
Leahy: We are joined on a newsmaker line by our very good friend, Congressman David Kustoff from the 8th Congressional District. Good morning, Congressman Kustoff. How are you?
Kustoff: Good morning. Thanks for having me all day. I’m good. We’re four days away from the election, and things feel good. But look, we’ve got to continue to run through the tape right now.
Leahy: Run through the tape. That’s a good phrase. So, Congressman, in studio, the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael, I have a question for you. It’s likely that you will be re-elected.
It’s likely that the Republicans will take over the House of Representatives and Kevin McCarthy will become Speaker. If that happens, what committee do you see yourself chairing?
Kustoff: Chairing? I don’t know about chairing. (Leahy chuckles) I will say I’m honored, and I like the way you set all that up. I’m honored. I’m on the House Ways and Means Committee, obviously, it is the oldest committee in the House of Representatives.
And I think that’s good for Tennessee, it’s good for our region. And you run to win, but you win to govern. And so it’s important. You think about where we are in this nation right now, and you think about the problems that people talk to me about every day and the problems you talk about on your show.
It’s the economy. It’s inflation. That’s really primary. Crime. The border. People are really hurting out there right now, and they know the problems, and they’re looking for solutions, and they’ve gone a little bit beyond what you asked me.
But I think about Biden a lot in these last several weeks, and he just he does not get the problems. And he’s certainly not talking about the solutions. I think that’s one reason that you’re seeing the polling and all the energy flow through to Republicans like water.
Leahy: Crom Carmichael is in studio. He has a question for you, Congress.
Carmichael: Congressman, let’s assume for purposes of discussion that Republicans do take the House by a nice margin, and they take the Senate by, let’s say, three. You still have a Democrat in the White House, and so you can’t pass meaningful legislation unless the president is willing to sign it.
I don’t see much hope of that. The opportunity that you have is to create distinctions between the two parties for the next election if, unfortunately, the Biden administration won’t do anything.
And I think my question is this. When we look at the economy, and you look at inflation, and tax cuts alone, we watch what happened over in Britain.
Tax cuts alone are not a solution, and the administrative state has gotten to be huge. What is the appetite, you think, for Republicans in the House to pass legislation that dramatically cuts the size of the administrative state?
Kustoff: It’s definitely about fiscal restraint. Let me go back a little bit because I think you set it up well. And to your point, I feel good about the House and the Senate. We’ve got a good chance to get the Senate.
If we get 51, then we get control, right? And so what I hear a lot from my colleagues is its fiscal restraint. There are a lot of reasons for inflation.
But one big reason is these big, massive bills that Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer have pushed down the throats of the American people without any Republican support.
And I think about two. One of them is last year that big, huge $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which was all brand new money. A lot of stimulus loaded in that and enhanced unemployment benefits.
And then just a few months ago, the bill that Manchin really championed, that they named the Inflation Reduction Act, which obviously, that’s not what that does.
$745 billion in brand new money for Green New Deal initiatives. So that exasperates this big inflation problem that we’ve got right now. And so to your point, it’s a lot about fiscal restraint and curbing back the size of the federal government.
Carmichael: Yes, but you can’t do that without the support of the President. So my question is, what legislation do you pass out of the House? I don’t mean that it becomes law, but what do you pass out of the House?
Because if you try to repeal the bills where the money is already out the door, I don’t know if that does any good. The administrative state is huge and it’s crushing the country with regulations and everything else.
What is the appetite, for example, of cutting the administrative state by 50 percent and then passing that bill and sending it over to the Senate? My sense of it is the Democrat Party is the party of big government.
That’s what it lives for. And if the Republican Party isn’t the party of shrinking government, then I don’t know what the ying and the yang is. How does the country oppose the bigness that exists and crushing us all?
Kustoff: There are reasons that Republicans have been doing so well. Listen, we don’t have the election yet. I look at last year when Republicans did so well in states like Virginia winning the governor, lieutenant governor, and Attorney General. So it’s about differences in ideas.
And I don’t want to get the cart before the horse on specific appropriation legislation that we’ll send up. I think you’re going to see dramatic differences between our way of thinking and Biden’s way of thinking.
And the way you asked it, I don’t know that I disagree with you about what Biden will do and won’t do. I think it’s interesting, though if we get the House and if we get the Senate. If Biden decides to come out of his far left corner and try to work with Republicans a lot as Bill Clinton did in 1995 after Republicans won the House.
Leahy: In studio, you’re getting a lot of skeptical looks from Crom, and for me, I don’t see him doing that at all. Is there any reason why you think he would be nice to you?
Kustoff: Well, you know what? You may very well be right. Here are the reasons he might. Number one, the country is in trouble and needs relief, and he can’t get things done without the support of a Republican-led House and Republican-led Senate.
Secondly, to some point, he’s got to be looking at legacy type stuff, and he will be 80 years old later this month, which means if he ran for re-election, which I’m very cynical about, he would be 82.
And at some point, he’s got to be looking at legacy-type stuff. He will have a choice. If we win the House in the Senate, he can work with Republicans and get things done, or he’s looking at two years of gridlock.
Leahy: Congressman, here is my sense of what he thinks about his legacy. His legacy, in his mind today is what’s for lunch? (Laughter) You know what I mean? (Laughter) You could use that line, by the way.
Kustoff: You might hear that somewhere. (Laughs)
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “David Kustoff” by Congressman David Kustoff.
Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Congressman (R) David Kustoff to the newsmakers line to weigh in on Nancy Pelosi’s iron grip on Washington D.C., HR1 legislation, and a path forward for Republicans.
Leahy: Tennessee, joined on our newspaper line by Congressman David Kustoff, a Republican who represents the Eighth Congressional District in Tennessee, which stretches all the way from a little bit West of Nashville, all the way down to Shelby County, the Memphis area. Welcome, Congressman Kustoff.
Kustoff: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
Leahy: How are you holding up in the crazy land of out-of-control Nancy Pelosi?
Kustoff: Well, I think you really summed up pretty well. Pelosi has made Washington help to create this toxic atmosphere. And you look at the priorities that she said, starting with the election bill, that you’ve been talking about, that federalize elections across the nation and it’s really scary. The power that the federal government is trying to implement on state and local governments all over and it emanates from Pelosi, the progressives, and the left side.
When you look at what she’s trying to do with elections, we’ve talked a lot and we’ve heard a lot about what’s going on in Georgia. It may not matter. If Pelosi’s election bill, which the bill number of anybody is following it is HR1, which means in her world, this is the most important bill that Congress is going to consider over these two years, it’s a complete domination of the election process by federal officials.
Leahy: In my view, it’s also unconstitutional. I like the name that I think speak former Speaker Newt Gingrich came up with for it. The Corrupt Politicians Act. Tell us about some of these.
Kustoff: (Chuckles) Well, that’s a good lead-in because it’s very broad. It’s very comprehensive. I think Speaker Gingrich is exactly right because I look at Tennessee in my area of Tennessee and I think that that we handle elections and we administer elections very fairly. People have plenty of opportunities to vote that one time. They’ve got several weeks of early voting. Extended hours. We make it pretty easy.
One thing that we require, which I think is exactly right, is voter identification. Just like when I go to the airport to fly to Washington every week, I’m showing the TSA official my driver’s license to show that I am who I am. Nothing unreasonable about it. Pelosi’s election bill gets rid of that voter ID requirement. And so it doesn’t matter what Tennessee’s law is as it relates to voter ID or any other state, it would be nullified.
It mandates the mail-in ballots. It mandates the drop boxes. But going back to your question with Speaker Gingrich, and this is incredible. I want people to really try to wrap their arms around this because it’s hard. It would create this bill, a six to one federal political donation match for all donations under $200. So picture this.
If Joe Smith gives Bernie Sanders a $200 donation, the federal government is going to chip in $1,200 to the Bernie Sanders reelection campaign. Now, that really makes no sense. And by the way, that would be funded with a tax increase. So you can see it’s a complete domination of elections by federal authorities. And it injects corruption into the process just as Speaker Gingrich says.
Leahy: Well, next time you’re meeting with Speaker Pelosi, I’m sure she regularly schedules meetings with the Republican members of the House. Not. But I have a message for her from Tennessee, direct from Tennessee. If the Senate passes the Corrupt Politicians Act and if the House then approves a conference committee, whatever it is, if it’s signed into law, she can take that law, and we’re not going to comply with it here in Tennessee. The state of Tennessee is going to push back. That I can guarantee you.
Kustoff: Well, I think that to your point a little bit earlier, I think that there are a lot of state attorney generals around the nation, the would challenge the authority and the constitutionality of this law to overstep and override their own state laws. And that would be appropriate. It’s a complete overreach. You just talked jokingly about sitting down with Pelosi. Here’s the stage right now.
The majority in the House of Representatives, there are 435 Congressmen and women, the magic number is 218. Now you’ve got some vacancies. You’ve got a Democratic congressman who passed away the other day. Right now, the count in the House is 218 Democrat Congressmen. And as of next week, there’ll be 212 Republican Congressman. And there are a few vacancies. So my point is that it is very very tight. It can’t be any tighter in the Senate.
50 Republicans, 50 Democrats. You would think at this point in time that Pelosi would reach out to Republicans and say, look, we don’t have the numbers to try to cram stuff down your throat and down the American people’s throat. Let’s see where we can find some common ground. Let’s get some stuff done for the American people and let’s get things going. But that’s not her strategy. That’s not her tactics. That’s not who she is. And that’s why until November of 2022, we’re going to have to fight like heck for our country.
Leahy: Now, let me ask you this question. Those 218 Democratic members of the House of Representatives, is there any single one of them that you’ve met who has the courage and convictions to stand against the lies of Nancy Pelosi? I mean, really. And when it comes down to it, will anyone stand for America on the Democratic side, or are they all in fear of Nancy Pelosi’s wrath and just going in lockstep with this attempt to destroy our constitutional Republic?
Kustoff: Well, believe it or not, the answer is both. There are some Democrat congressman who want to do the right thing and who think that she overreaches and think that the Democratic Party is moving and has moved too far to the left. But at the same time, they know her power and they know what she can do to them.
And seen some moderates get totally wiped out and get primaried by people to their left and to their progressive side because they don’t cow-tow to where the Democratic Party is today. You’ve seen them wiped off the board the last two and four years, and that’s really too bad. So there are a number of them who get it. But at the same time, she wields a lot of power.
And to her credit, she’s a terrific vote counter. And so she’s not going to put a bill on the floor of the House of Representatives unless she’s absolutely sure that she’s got the votes to pass it. And so that’s the real rub. To me, we talked about this election bill that Pelosi named HR1. You didn’t see Democrats fighting against it, arguing against it, or voting against it. And that’s because of the tremendous control that she has.
Leahy: They are afraid of her.
Kustoff: I really do think a number of them are. And believe it or not, they may be as scared of somebody like an AOC as they are Pelosi.
Leahy: Jim Cooper here is about to be challenged by Nashville’s version of AOC, Odessa Kelly, who if elected, would be the first Black lesbian member of Congress from Tennessee. And she’s all-in in terms of the left-wing agenda of AOC. That is I guess is one thing that they may be concerned about. Final thoughts from Congressman David Kustoff.
Kustoff: Yeah, well, it’s a tough time in our nation’s history. We’ll get past it. I really feel very good that we’re going to get the House back in Republican hands in November of 2022. But it is going to be a real fight, and I’m going to continue to make that fight.
Leahy: From your lips to God’s ear.
Listen to the full second hour:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.