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Mike Lee on Repealing Obamacare and His Wild Curiosity About Wiretapping

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) joined The Glenn Beck Program on Monday to talk about why the GOP won't resurrect the Obamacare repeal bill passed in 2015, his wild curiosity about evidence the administration might have about wiretapping, and why Republicans are suddenly in love with infrastructure spending.

Enjoy the complimentary clip above or read the transcript below for details.

GLENN: Senator Mike Lee who is at an airport getting ready to board a plane. We're glad you would take the time to hop on the phone with us. How are you, sir?

MIKE: Doing great. Thanks so much, Glenn.

GLENN: Good. Let's get to Obamacare repeal and replace. This thing is nothing like what the Republicans were promising us they would do. Nowhere even close.

Do we have a chance of getting something good out of this?

MIKE: Sure. Something good can come out of it. What happens, whether something good comes out of it, the extent to which it might be good depends entirely on how members of Congress handle this in the next few days, on how they choose to cast their votes.

Now, look, you're right. What we promised was to repeal Obamacare, as much of Obamacare as we possibly could, and then to start trying to find new ways to put the American people back in charge of their own health care.

Well, what this bill does is it doesn't repeal nearly as much of Obamacare as we could. It leaves all kinds of things intact. It leaves most of the Obamacare regulations in place. Most of -- many of the Obamacare taxes remain in place, at least for a time. It leaves expanded Medicaid intact for a period of time. And then doesn't make as many adjustments to it long-term.

Meanwhile, it comes up with a new refundable tax credit, which we don't know the cost of yet. We don't know how many people are going to take it.

There are a lot of unanswered questions, which begs the question: Why are we not just repealing? Why are we not just passing the same repeal bill that Republicans in the House and in the Senate voted for in December of 2015? That's what I'd like to see.

STU: Mike, is it true that you can't just repeal it unless you have 60 votes? You can't do it through reconciliation with just a full repeal?

MIKE: There is some ambiguity as to how many of the insurance regulations of Obamacare could be repealed through reconciliation. So there's an open question on that. But we do that know we could repeal all the taxes and all of the subsidies and possibly some of the regs through reconciliation. We know that because the reconciliation bill we passed in 2015 repealed all of the taxes and all the subsidies.

GLENN: So why aren't we doing it?

MIKE: That's a very good question. That's what I believed we were going to do. That's what many of us were told -- otherwise led to believe.

GLENN: Why aren't we doing it?

STU: He said it was a good question.

MIKE: There are those in Congress who chose to take a different path. Now, I can't speak for them. I can't speak to what their intentions are. I think the easiest, simplest way of explaining it is, they had other priorities that they wanted to attach to this. Priorities that were perhaps higher than simply achieving repeal, at least to the degree that --

GLENN: Can you give me an example of what might be more important than what you promised the American people?

MIKE: Okay. So here's how I think they would explain it, and I want to be clear, I'm always careful not to try to speak for somebody else. But I think if they were here with us, they would probably say, look, we don't want people to be in a state of too much uncertainty and doubt. We don't want them to be afraid. We want them to have a degree of confidence about what comes next after Obamacare repeal. And so we want to provide a soft landing spot for them. And that is so important. It's important enough to them, apparently, that they're willing to go a little softer on some of the repeal and provide more programs through this bill right now.

The problem with that is, it's -- it's not going to pass. And it probably shouldn't pass until they can answer more of these questions, more of these questions about why we can't repeal more of Obamacare than this bill does.

PAT: And the other problem with that, Mike, is that that's not what they promised us. That's not what they said they were going to do. They didn't say, well, we're going to think about this and provide a safe landing spot for people. It's going to take a really long time. We're going to not repeal -- it was repeal and replace. That's what they ran on. That's what they were elected to do. And now, again, as so often happens with the Republican Party, they're not doing it. Frustrating.

MIKE: Yeah, that's right. By the way, I love the Kermit the Frog imitation that both you and Glenn do.

GLENN: Thank you so much. Thank you. That's what happens when your best friend since 1980 --

PAT: Yeah.

MIKE: Well, he has, in fact, been the spokesman for the AHCA, so it's appropriate that we use his voice when doing this. But, no, you're exactly right, this is what we ran on, this is what we promised. Now, to my great dismay, to my great surprise, on many instances over the last week or so, we've had legislators from the House and the Senate somehow saying that this bill, the AHCA is somehow what we campaigned on, what we ran on. Well, that's news to me. That's news to me because we've had this bill for only a few days.

PAT: Me too.

MIKE: That's news to me if we somehow ran on this specific bill, a bill the score of which we still don't know. We still don't know how much this thing is going to cost. We still don't have any idea how many people will take this refundable tax credit. And, therefore, how much it's going to cost. So that's news to me, that that's somehow what we ran on.

What I remember that we ran on was that we would repeal every scrap of Obamacare that we possibly could, the whole thing, if we could get away with it under our procedural rules in the Senate. And that's what we should be doing.

STU: We're talking to Senator Mike Lee. And every time you're on, Mike, I like to ask you the nerdiest, most boring, uninteresting question to see --

GLENN: So please keep this answer short. Please, for the love of Pete.

STU: So I apologize in advance for this.

But when the Bush tax cuts were passed, they were passed under reconciliation. And because of that, they expired after ten years. Would the same thing happen here? If we repeal all these Obamacare taxes, in ten years, are we going to be talking about the expiration of the Obamacare repeal, and then it's going to be back into effect again?

MIKE: No, not necessarily. In fact, almost certainly not.

GLENN: Good end to that.

MIKE: Because of the fact that we were dealing with taxes in that circumstance, rather than something else. So that wouldn't be it.

STU: I thought it was a tax, which is the only reason it was constitutional. Wasn't that -- tax versus fee. Wasn't that a big conversation with Roberts?

MIKE: I'm sorry. I didn't hear that question. Can you say that again?

GLENN: Good. No, no, let's move on.

STU: Let's move on.

GLENN: So, Senator, let me ask you about the intelligence committee has given the president until this afternoon, they say they can't find any evidence that Barack Obama was spying on Donald Trump. And to present some evidence -- and we'll go pursue that. Any indication that he's going to present that evidence? And is there any reason to believe that he couldn't present the evidence if he had it?

MIKE: Okay. That's a good question. I'll answer the first question, I have no idea. I would love to see what the evidence is. I'm wildly curious about it. As to whether he could present it, that depends on what the "it" is.

I will tell you, my first reaction to this, when I very first learned about the tweet, my first reaction was, he's probably not talking about a traditional wiretap, where somebody actually goes to a judge and the judge orders a phone line to be tapped. Perhaps he's talking about a foreign intelligence surveillance court order issued pursuant to Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which would say, you know, here is an identified agent of a foreign government. Let's monitor this person's communications. And that there might have been some incidental communications with some US citizens, perhaps including people who were involved in one way or another with the campaign. That incidentally got pulled into that. That was my first reaction is that seemed the most plausible possibility. If, in fact, it's that, there might be some reasons why we might be reluctant to share that. Or --

GLENN: No, but he could share it with the intelligence committee, could he not -- or committee?

MIKE: Yes, yes, they've got the clearance to do that. So there's no reason why he couldn't share something like that with them. They've got clearance to see pretty much all of that. But as far as his ability to share that publicly, that would seem less likely if my theory is correct.

GLENN: And there's nothing that the president can't get, right? If he said, I want to show it, but, you know, this agency won't let me, you know, have access to this. There's -- everybody in in the Senate, would be like, okay. We need to see this. Behind closed doors. But you will open these books or whatever it is that he's saying the evidence is -- there's nothing the president couldn't get to, is there?

MIKE: I assume so. Because -- and, look, he's the commander-in-chief. There's nothing that he doesn't have access to. And so if he can -- if he can back this up, if he knows what it is that he's referring to, there's no reason that I'm aware of why he couldn't come up with something that he could produce to these Intel Committees. Now, whether he will choose to do so or not is a different question. Perhaps there are those close to him advising him, hey, you don't have to do this if you don't want to. But that --

GLENN: Why wouldn't you?

MIKE: -- that requires rank speculation.

GLENN: Why wouldn't you?

MIKE: I don't know. If perhaps he didn't want to set a precedent that he could just be required to answer questions every time the Intel Committee wanted to hear something. But I would think in this instance, he would want to, particularly because these questions are going to be raised from time to time.

GLENN: Right. And we're talking about national security. I mean, we're talking about something that he's accused another president of doing. And if that president was doing that, that needs to be stopped.

MIKE: Yes. Yes. Exactly. And that's -- that's -- all the more reason why I suspect he'll provide them with what they want to know because you're right. Look, this is one of the things I've been worried about for years. And I've expressed this concern on your show previously. But if you remember the Church Committee, the Frank Church Committee back in the '70s --

GLENN: Yep.

MIKE: -- conducted a series of hearings to look into abuses by our intelligence-gathering agencies, and what they concluded was startling, which was that in every administration from Ford -- from FDR through Ford and Nixon, who was in power at about the time they concluded their research, that the US government's intelligence gathering apparatus had been used to engage in political espionage. Now, look at what's happened since then. Our technology has improved dramatically. Our technological means of gathering intelligence have grown by leaps and bounds. And our laws haven't always kept up with that.

And so to me, it would be almost surprising if some of this were not occurring. That's why we need to be watchful of this. That's why I was concerned, immediately, when I saw the president's tweet was because I considered it plausible, if not likely that this kind of thing would be going on.

GLENN: One last question, let's go to infrastructure. The G.O.P. went out of their gourd -- and I believe rightly so -- for a stimulus package for roads and bridges and tunnels and everything else for $787 billion. I remember that number. It's burned -- seared into my memory of $787 billion. Now the president is proposing a trillion dollar stimulus package, and the Republicans are very excited about it. Can you tell me what made the 787 billion-dollar stimulus package an affront on the Constitution and this one a dream come true?

MIKE: Well, I can't point to any distinguishing characteristic between the two, as to why this one would be good and that one bad.

In fact, look, when I look at the Constitution, I see the powers of Congress being limited. They're enumerated powers, most of them in Article I, Section 8. And they talk about things like the power to provide for our national defense, to declare war, to regulate trade between the states with foreign nations and with Indian tribes. I don't see anything in there that says that it's the prerogative of Congress to create all infrastructure.

Now, look, it's one thing if we're talking about an interstate corridor here or there. But it's another thing entirely if we're talking about wholesale, top to bottom, soup to nuts transportation infrastructure, even intrastate projects.

I think whether we're talking about under the Obama administration or any subsequent administration, headed by a Republican or a Democrat, I think we've got to look carefully at what we're doing there. Not every transportation infrastructure is necessarily outside of Congress' authority. Because some of them do involve a distinctly interstate function. But where they don't, we have constitutional problems.

GLENN: Mike Lee, always good to talk to you. Thank you so much, sir. Appreciate it.

MIKE: Thank you very much, sir. It's good to be with you.

STU: So positive.

GLENN: Yeah. He is. Boring as snot.

STU: Thank you very much.

Oh, I love him. He is saving my hope in the entire country right about now.

GLENN: He is so good and so smart. And, you know, he's just tickled pink by, you know -- I love -- I love because you know he's accurate. But when you're talking to him -- because he's like this all the time, well, I mean, in section 508, subsection B, paragraph four --

STU: Yeah.

GLENN: -- you'll see -- and he did that like four times during this. You just have to get used to, that's the way he is.

STU: He's that guy.

GLENN: And that's why he is so good and so needed in the Senate. Want to give you this from the New York Post today. Bank fees rise to an all-time high. The average customer now pays $666 a year in banking fees.

STU: Satan.

GLENN: Right. Right.

STU: This is how it happens.

GLENN: The overdraft revenue from the top three banks has surged from 5.1 billion to $5.4 billion. That's what they make if you overdraft.

$5.4 billion. Does anybody remember that we're providing them? It's a service that we're providing them as well. We're giving them our money.

JEFFY: No. No.

GLENN: So they can loan it out to other people. No, they don't care anymore.

JEFFY: No, they do not.

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