Skip to main content

Mitch McConnell
  Axios Interview with Sen. Mitch Mc Connell  CSPAN  December 22, 2017 1:23am-1:57am EST

1:23 am
>> there will be technical corrections to the bill in the new year. mcconnell's response was remain intact. that was in response to the suggestion a fix-it bill will be needed in the future. senator mitch mcconnell sits down with mike allen. it is 30 minutes. and now it is o welcome to the stage senator mitch mcconnell. thank you for coming. thank you so very much.
1:24 am
your book is called "the long game" and that's what this victory was, it was the long game. sen. mcconnell: it has been 31 years. you cannot rush these things. >> what was the turning point? sen. mcconnell: i think there were a number of turning points. i think in the end, senator mccain's decision to support us early was an important signal that we weren't going to have the same kind of coalition that ended up being troublesome on health care. host: i take it you had a hand in that. how did you convince them? how did you get that advance assurance? sen. mcconnell: he believes in a robust america. everybody believes that is on the hands side, but he also
1:25 am
believes should be dominant marshall he, too -- dominant commercially, too. everybody understands our business tax code has been a disaster. even democrats were saying that before donald trump became president. having a strong america commercially is important, too, and i think this bill helps do that. i think that was a big factor for him. sen. mcconnell: i think you had another big turning point after senator mccain. sen. mcconnell: there have been a number of turning points, but that was a signal to everybody, that this was not going to end the way the other episode ended. this tax you see that code is less popular than tarp, less popular than some tax
1:26 am
increases under clinton and bush. how do you turn that around? sen. mcconnell: let me tell you how you turn that around. i brought a couple of points when you ask the inevitable question. let's assume you are honey i'm -- a -- heidi highcroft person in a typical family of aur making $73,000 is getting $2000 tax cut. for you inside the beltway people may think that $2000 is not that much money, but for that family of four is a larger amount. let's say you are a single parent making $41,000 a year, you get $1300 more and a lot of people in the greater washington area, that doesn't in like much,
1:27 am
one trip to costco. that is a 73% reduction for that single mother making $41,000 a year. we are prepared to make this argument to the american people. it is a significant middle-class tax cut, but it is also important to get the country growing again. we were underperforming. chance to begin to live up to america's potential, which means more jobs and more opportunity. both sides see it differently, there wasn't a single democrat in the house that voted to it, so we will take it to the american people. host: it sounds like we can expect to see a commercial like that? sen. mcconnell: if i ran the
1:28 am
campaign, that's what i would take. is not a saying $1300 lot to you, but it's a lot to me. we will have that argument in the fall. host: do you have a worry that parts of this will have to be undone? in haste, thate it will have to be done next year? sen. mcconnell: i think there is always a minimum technical , butction after tax bills i think core of the bill is intact and we wanted to make america more competitive. i think we are one do that. was also pleased to see the corporate reaction to this. at&t decided to give christmas bonuses to over 2000 employees.
1:29 am
democratsrgument from that it will somehow not benefit workers, but it will benefit it workers. thise prepared to make argument to american people. we think it is an important step to get america growing again. senator mcconnell, you had a lot of meetings with individual members, small group meetings to hash out what concerns were, as the leader you work this will a little bit the way a committee chairman would work it. sen. mcconnell: we are fortunate in the senate republican conference. we have three lunches per week that almost everybody attends. i say to paul ryan i don't know how you communicate with 200 some odd members.
1:30 am
it is pretty easy for us to talk to each other. in this instance i designated watcher of people i thought were particularly persuasive. -- with those in four on the committee four or five of our members at a time that were not on the committee and read them into the process along the way. by the time the bill came out of the finance committee it brought comfort with it. you always have people who would like to adjust this or adjust that. it is a statement of the obvious that they would end up in a 52 52-48que situation -- situation. in retrospect, i think it improved the bill in several ways. i think there were 46 members
1:31 am
pretty satisfied with the product coming out and arrest needed to set his eye -- and the rest we needed to satisfy in one way or another. jump balld on the control of the senate that senator warner was talking about, do you think you are better off with all republicans? sen. mcconnell: i got a letter from all but three of the senate democrats outlined a -- outlining what type of tax reform they would support, but frankly, it was nothing in our view that we thought needed be done to get the country growing again. the message was this is not 1986. pretty broads a partisan effort. party seemscratic
1:32 am
largely driven by the rhetoric of bernie sanders and elizabeth warren and i think a lot of the members that might be inclined to be more centrist are intimidated i that. -- intimidated by that. host: looking ahead to next november, there are plenty of you.e who want to unseat do you think that you will keep senate in spite of the tax cut or because of the tax cut? sen. mcconnell: i think we will keep the senate as to what will be the central issue a year from now is hard to predict. every election cycle is different, the personalities are different, the math is different. we are not all up. the one cycle you have to look
1:33 am
at where the races are. 25 of our democratic friends up and only eight of us, but they map -- good map the last cycle. was so sure he was going to have my job, he was having interviews with reporters to discuss his agenda. he called me today for what he hopes is a high level of cooperation, i called him back after the election and that i hope so. the math doesn't guarantee the outcome, but we do have a good map. host: i think a wise man once said the role in love with your map. sen. mcconnell: i was the wise man. get michigan, wisconsin, you not getting the recruits you wanted.
1:34 am
why is recruiting hard for you this year? sen. mcconnell: i don't know that recruiting is over yet. it is an ongoing process and we expected to be very competitive in a number of places that are very red. we are hoping governor scott is going to run in florida who has very good standing after the way handled the hurricanes, particularly. the recruiting season is not over. host: i'm going to talk for a second so you can enjoys them water there. in a few minutes, leader mcconnell has agreed to a year end t as you pitch to people who you
1:35 am
really want to run, history does presidenta first -- in any circumstance, what is your pitch to someone you really want? sen. mcconnell: we have a unique opportunity here with a republican president, republican house, republican senate, we can move america to the right of center. look at the supreme court. for a generation now it is pretty likely to be right of center. we have confirmed circuit court judges this year. i always say we are in the personnel business. there were 1200 executive branch appointments that come to us for confirmation. the 12 circuit judges we did this year -- the circuit
1:36 am
inrt system was created 1871, this is the most that have in confirmed -- have in confirmed under one president since it was set up. this is having a huge impact on the court system in this country for a generation. and these people being confirmed our relatively young. when you use the word conservative when it applies judges, we are not talking about political conservatives. gorsuch down in september. here is what he described, we don't wear red, we don't wear blue, we wear black. justice scalia put it this way, if you are a judge and not
1:37 am
occasionally uncomfortable with the outcome you reach, you are not a very good judge. i think for potential candidates who want to have an impact on the country, it is a pretty good selling point. not to mention, a selling point america aek is making different place than it was under barack obama is an appealing argument particularly in a lot of the red states that we have opportunities in, in 2018. host: and you are talking about the impact of the court decisions, odds are you will have a supreme court decision that insulin becomes the domestic story of the year? sen. mcconnell: we don't know whether there will be a retirement, but when there is a retirement -- the supreme court is a big deal in this country. somebody asked me yesterday was
1:38 am
the tax till the highlight of my year, and i said actually it was a close second. i think the most important was the gorsuch nomination. i was involved in filling that during the campaign. i think the president did an excellent job of not blowing the opportunity. he picked an excellent nominee. host: leader mcconnell, your comments from these health lawn yesterday, your quotation of the day in the "new york times" about what a great achievement this was, we saw the clips -- to you start to take some of the president got to be a little over the top? sen. mcconnell: you know i'm not going to answer a question like that. host: what is your working
1:39 am
relationship with the president at the moment? sen. mcconnell: it is good. you know, he likes to talk. he is talk to members all of the time. i talk all of the time. you get phone calls at the it's not justbut me. he calls a lot of people. there is a lot of interaction. there's a lot of back and forth and i think he is doing a good job. he knows i'm not a huge fan of tweets, although, i like the tweet he sent out about me yesterday, so there are exceptions. host: some of the tweets about you by him must have been hard to overlook, but you plainly have. how? sen. mcconnell: i'm sorry? they weren't my favorite, no. and he's gotten better.
1:40 am
host: in what sense? [laughter] sen. mcconnell: we are doing just fine. schumerat has senator and like compared to his predecessor, harry reid? sen. mcconnell: i like chuck. we get along very well. he is just fine. yesterday economics advisor gary cohn was talking about working on welfare reform at the same time. can get democrats on entitlement reform. mark warner says he doesn't that happening, what do you see -- where are they on your to do list for next year? sen. mcconnell: i think the democrats are not going to be
1:41 am
interested in entitlement reform, so i would not expect to see that on the agenda. and what democrats are willing to do is important, because we have to have democratic involvement. things like infrastructure, which the secretary of transportation has a good deal of interest in -- to do something in that area are going to have to have democratic participation. it has been a pretty partisan year. a good example of that is how difficult it has been to get confirmations. i confirmed the general counsel yesterday with a voice vote. i would like to see that stopped, because there is no purpose served by that level of
1:42 am
obstruction. i can understand judges with lifetime appointments. i don't blame them. it is a contentious thing, but honestly secretary of this or that shouldn't be that difficult. we ought to be confirming those evil on a voice vote -- those people on a voice vote. i'm not opposed to obstruction if you have a point. if it is something important and deeply felt, i understand it. but i'm not sure most people know who secretary of this or that is. just as we look ahead, you said well to -- welfare entitlement reform is not on the table, because you need 60 votes. do you think there is a good
1:43 am
chance? sen. mcconnell: i hope we can go forward on an structure, but the nature of the senate is such that we can do these things without democratic involvement, so we will have to work together . hopefully more than we have been able to do in 2017. host: what is the recipe for that or how could that happen? sen. mcconnell: i think there is a lot of interest in infrastructure. host: the senate banking chairman of idaho has put or a .ipartisan banking reform bill 65 senators have said they are for it. will that come up and use that as a sign of some bipartisan work? sen. mcconnell: it will. it will be on my agenda. your previous guest is one of the democrats supporting it. i think it is an important
1:44 am
degree visitation of dodd frank for smaller institutions. it had nothing to do with the meltdown in 2008. host: so you are optimistic about it? sen. mcconnell: yet. i think it is a candidate for early consideration. host: what is your optimism about it passing, what is its importance to you personally? sen. mcconnell: i think it would be an important thing to do and i think with that many democrats -- understood the consequences -- it is sort of the collateral inmage of dodd frank smaller institutions across the country and i think they have that in the attention of members of the committee, obviously both democrats and republicans. host: steve van and is not --
1:45 am
steve bannon is not elected to anything, but some people inc. he is a power broker, but he thinks you need to spend more time with your family. how do you -- sen. mcconnell: i don't have anything to say about him at all. host: he thinks you should be -- sen. mcconnell: i don't have any obscuration about him at all. host: he's the rare person you have no observation about? sen. mcconnell: no. others.esen. mcconnell: host: like to? sen. mcconnell: i wouldn't know. it has no impact on our ability to function in the senate, nor will it have any impact on the campaign. the key thing, it's you want to
1:46 am
win a campaign, you have to have a candidate that can win. it is not complicated. the kind of people you are talking about, that element, just managed to blow the senate race in the brightest state in america. that is not a formula for victory. to the extent there are people running in primaries from the country who have no chance of winning an election, we will oppose them. we did it successfully in 2014, did it successfully in 2016, took the senate. andere more passive in 2010 2012. we are not doing that anymore. to win inea is to try november, because unless you win the election, you cannot make
1:47 am
policy. make policy and losers go home and go into another line of work. host: so, you're going to put a byp to throwing away races endorsing candidates that can't when? sen. mcconnell: yeah. host: the book available on amazon, you say parties on both elves too often see thems as saviors? sen. mcconnell: i think people have an exaggerated sense of their own importance sometimes and it's a good thing to avoid. host: something else you said in the book is that area often, as reporters set up their stories arcs, very often
1:48 am
you play the villain. sen. mcconnell: i'm just a really nice guy. i don't know how i end up being a arcs villain. it just amazes me. host: sounds like you don't mind laying the villain? sen. mcconnell: you can't be in and mind of work people disliking you. -- youher up you go, the have to decide who's opinion you care about. whose opinion do you care about? i care, for example, what some people think about me. i care about what "wall street journal" editorial-page angst of me. i care not a whit what "the new york times" editorial-page angst
1:49 am
about me. that's what it comes down to. who's opinion do you value? host: and sometimes do you withwith the criticism humor? you have a wall in kentucky dealing with that in an unusual way. sen. mcconnell: we have a wall of cartoons skewering me. i think we have about 600, and none of them are nice. --. mcconnell: 600-0?ou are rep. ryan: sen. mcconnell: none of them -- sen. mcconnell: none of them are favorable. i'm used to being criticized. you have to find out what is in to yourself, keep your eye on
1:50 am
the goal and when opportunities come along for what you think is thinkn to the country -- is important to the country in that's what happened in 2016. when the stars are aligned, maximize your opportunities and don't waste any time if you can avoid it. the stars are aligned rightdon'w and we are going to take maximum opportunity. host: penultimate question, is there any danger that the government will shut down? sen. mcconnell: no. host: what gives you that confidence? sen. mcconnell: no one wants to do it. host: that didn't stop it before. sen. mcconnell: know, some people have wanted to do it. year,reflecting on the
1:51 am
what is your tradition? sen. mcconnell: like a lot of americans, towards the end of the year i use it as a time to look back. a lot of americans they they have new year's resolutions about all of the things they intend to do that are. i tend to look over the last 12 write about things that are important, not only in my family, but in my career. i think oral histories are important. i also do that from time to time. i have done it for 25 years and i would a to the audience, it is a good to do for your family. particularly for elderly people from time to time, if there were get their
1:52 am
reflections. you mentioned my book. if i didn't sit down and give my oral history, there's no way i could of done that book. beingcase it ended up useful to do a publication. but regardless if you are wanting to write a book, i am a big fan of doing oral histories. host: do you talk into a phone, or to a recorder? sen. mcconnell: my wife and i have archives. i am fortunate. it works better for me to sit down and work with someone, so i sit down with the curator and we talk about it. host: what is going to be topic letter a this year? sen. mcconnell: on the business side, the professional side, it will be the things that we have talked about, the circuit work,
1:53 am
the supreme court, the tax bill. i will probably the little more candid about my own reef actions reflections my own about the president then i would be with you. because remember oil histories -- oral histories are your property. host: how long do you spend on this project? sen. mcconnell: in my case it is several hours. it's actually better to do it more often. i don't find time to do it as often as i would like. host: before football games you have a secret passion? sen. mcconnell: it is not a secret. tailgating is not a secret. i buy season tickets every year to louisville football and we make a day of it.
1:54 am
we go out a couple of hours before the game, then go to the game, a couple of hours after the game. and it is a pretty sober crowd. everybody is actually still on the eve after all of that and it is a lot of fun. s of itne of the joy is it is not work people, right? sen. mcconnell: no. this is friends, some people in politics, but friends of many years. host: what's the leading activity? sen. mcconnell: it is a lot of eating. and believe it or not, we are real fans. thanki would like to c-span for joining us. thanks to bank of america for
1:55 am
making these conversations possible. s think the amazing axio event team. this is the baskin-robbins event number 31. hank all of my colleague and all of you who made this possible. leader mcconnell, thank you for a fascinating conversation. happy new year. [applause] >> coming up, we will speak with lee edwards, about his 60 year involvement in the conservative movement. >> i met bill mccarthy through his father.
1:56 am
he liked to party, drink -- have a drink or two. he was also someone who could take advice very well. he said and did things that hurt of communism -- for some time. >> q and a sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span. >> senate democrats held a news conference and criticized president trump and congressional republicans on the 2017 legislative agenda, the tax reform bill. they also talked about the lack of education on issues including infrastructure, and the opioid crisis. -- chuck schumer open the 25 minute briefing.