Editor's Note: This transcript was automatically transcribed, so mistakes are inevitable. You can contribute by proofreading the transcript or highlighting the mistakes. Sign up to be amongst the first contributors.
Not a lot of people traveling these days, especially by air, and when you do travel by air, it's not particularly comfortable, that is, unless you were on a private 747 with the president of the United States. That's an experience that my co-host just had. We will get into what the senator spoke about with the president. This is verdict with Ted Cruz.
Welcome back to verdict for Ted Cruz, I'm Michael Knowles. Senator, you know, I often express envy and hurt that I'm not invited to your Senate Republican lunches. And I got to tell you, the ride aboard Air Force One sounds like, well, I don't know, someday I assume my invitation was lost in the mail, please. It sounds like you had a crazy day yesterday. Take us through it. Well, we did. You and I were supposed to film Verdict yesterday together in D.C. and I'm embarrassed to admit that I canceled on you.
I stood you up because what happened? Well, the president was coming to Texas, and so he asked if I wanted to come along as he was heading to Midland, was highlighting energy production and America's energy independence. And that's an issue I care deeply about. And I'll pretty much always come along if someone's going to Texas. And so it was an interesting day, though. So the way it started, I had to be at the White House about seven a.m. yesterday.
And for anyone that comes in contact with the president, they do a covert test. So that's obligatory. Before you can get on, you go get tested. So I went into the White House, got tested yesterday morning. The folks here in the studio will be glad to know. As of yesterday morning, I confirmed negative wet and got in the van to head to Andrews Air Force Base. And there were a couple of Texas members of Congress that were flying with us.
And suddenly we're sitting there and we hear, well, Louie Gohmert is not coming. What do you mean legwarmers not coming? He was going to join us. He was going to be on the flight. Louie is hysterical, by the way. Like any time you spent time with Louie, you will be holding your ribs laughing. So so we're all like, well, why isn't Louie coming? Well, he was at the White House and he tested positive.
So that's how the morning started with Louie had to turn around and leave and was not allowed on the plane because he just tested positive. So we take the van, we go jump on Air Force One, the president joins us, we take off. While we're in the air, so we're headed to Midland, Texas, a whole bunch of Republican candidates for Congress who are running in various seats, they're not incumbents, they're running against Democrats or in open seats.
They were all meeting us in Midland. And the plan was that those those Republican candidates, they were going to invite on the plane and meet the president and do a photo op.
And they're all excited what we find out midair that one of those Republican candidates got named Wesley Hunt, who's running here in Houston in my home district.
Great guy. He tested positive for covid, so he was literally heading to meet Air Force One and he tested positive for covid and as a result, they said, well, OK, all of you candidates, none of you can go go in and see the president now because of that. So so it was a. Fairly surreal beginning to the day and listen, it's an underscoring that this remains a dangerous disease and we need to continue to take serious steps to limit it spread.
Right, if for no other reason, then you might miss your chance to go on Air Force One, so you got to make sure you behave responsibly and don't catch it. Well, it's. One of the biggest reasons, actually, that you joined the president on a trip, and I've done at this point a number of trips on Air Force One with the president is that you spend a lot of time with him. And so if there are issues going on, it is some of the most concentrated, intense time and it's a stark difference.
So first four years I was in the Senate, Barack Obama was president that entire time.
I went on Air Force One once. If you remember when when five Dallas police officers were murdered and there was a funeral for those police officers, Obama came down to speak at it and he invited me to to to come along. Actually, I sat next to Nancy Pelosi on Air Force One.
We had it may have been the first time I had met Nancy. We had a very pleasant conversation, mostly about her grandkids, not about anything remotely related to politics. And the interesting thing about Obama is he wouldn't hang out with us. He briefly came back and talked with several folks that were coming down and that had been invited, a guest. And he came back briefly and kind of said, hi, how are you doing? OK, great.
And then went off, went off to his office. And we didn't see in the rest of the flight.
Trump is totally different, like Trump hangs out, he wants to like the office on Air Force One. It's exactly like the movie, it's the cool desk with the seal. And it's so there are the Texas House members and look or their Texas members of the US House who were there, who were really excited. And so I was taking pictures of all of them. All right. Go stand by the president. Give me your phone. I'll take a picture.
So I was the designated photographer, the photographer.
But it's actually really valuable because you're sitting down with the president for significant time. Talking and right now there is a lot to talk about, so we had probably seven hours of he and I discussing in particular the economic challenges in the country and the legislation moving moving through the Senate right now. And so it was it was a propitious time to be there with him.
Well, without, you know, asking you to violate any confidences or tell any tales out of school, I would like to know something about perhaps what you spoke about or what you're thinking about this economic relief bill that seems to be coming down the pike in the midst of all this kind of bad economic news. Well, let's take it in a couple of pieces and I'll tell you what what I think I'm not going to share what the president said. And that's usually the line I try to follow is what I said.
I'm happy to to relay. I'll leave it to others to share what they said. Right. But but let me just get my views. The Nancy Pelosi three trillion dollar bill that they passed a couple of months ago. Is an absolute monstrosity. It it is. Three trillion dollars, even in government speak, is a crap ton of money and and it's a bill look, Pelosi wasn't intending to pass that in the law. It's a bill that is just a Democratic wish list.
And she didn't talk to any Republican. She didn't talk to the Senate. It was a campaign document. They passed it so the Democrats could campaign on it in November. That's all it's about. Then we get to the Senate, unfortunately, in the Senate this week, the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, rolled out his own plan and the so-called Republican leadership plan is it's cheaper than the Democrats plans instead of three trillion and it's only one trillion budget, but it's it's fundamentally flawed.
And so I have been very outspoken against it, very outspoken at our lunches that we do every day in the Republican conference that we you and I have talked about before. But I've been very outspoken publicly. And I was. Very clear with the president, what I thought yesterday when we were together, I seem to recall if some people haven't been following your your takes on this, you said that as the legislation currently stands, you're not just a no.
You're a hell no.
Yeah, that that is exactly right on a couple of levels. First of all, let's talk the amount like the one trillion, which is a ton of money. Is clearly just an opening bid. And nobody's hiding the fact, OK, we'll start at a trillion, but the plan is to get negociate up to one and a half or two or two and a half. And we don't have it, there's no magic money tree in Washington, it's not like like there's some secret vault hidden in the Capitol nobody knows about.
This is all money that we're either printing or borrowing from China, but it doesn't exist. We've already spent over three trillion dollars. And so the amount is a problem. But actually my concern, Michael, is much bigger than the amount. And this is that this was the center of what I was arguing to the president yesterday. The focus of the bill, the objective of the bill is wrong. The objective of the bill is just shoveling cash, it's just spending trillions of dollars shoveling it into the economy, but none of it creates jobs.
And so what I've been arguing to the other Republicans, what I've been arguing the president, our focus on this bill should be one thing in particular. It should be creating jobs. We've got now fifty one million Americans who've lost their jobs because of this catastrophe that's hit this country. We've got to get them back to work, that is overwhelmingly the priority is get people back to work. And, you know, you look at these first bills, the bills that we passed several months ago in the height of the the crisis.
Those were overwhelmingly bipartisan, the big one, the Kahrizak ninety six to nothing, every Democrat, every Republican voted yes, I voted yes. Bernie Sanders voted yes. That was not a stimulus bill. It wasn't designed to stimulate the economy, the press calls it a stimulus bill, but that's not what it was. It was a relief bill. It was designed to give emergency loans, short term loans to people at the very height of the crisis.
Now, our focus has got to be different, it's got to be getting people back to work. We need a recovery bill now. What is a recovery bill, do our entire focus, I think, should be cutting taxes and reducing regulations that are killing jobs, making it easier for small businesses to open? That's the issue. And by the way, the entire election in November turns on it. So the Democrats, what does Nancy Pelosi want? She wants all.
Fifty one million people have lost their jobs. To stay unemployed, to stay at home, to not be working, to not have their kids in school because she is gambling on that. Fifty one million people who are broken, unemployed and out of a job and pissed off are going to go in and vote to throw the bums out. And she's most interested in defeating Donald Trump. Well, the case I made to the president and to the other Republicans is we shouldn't be complicit in that objective.
If the president wants to win in November, we need people going back to work. We need people earning a paycheck. We need people providing for their families again. And simply spending trillions for Nancy Pelosi's buddies ain't going to get the job done.
You know, I remember early on when when there were those debates over the initial relief bill, you in particular pointed out that this this language that the Democrats added in on the question of unemployment insurance was going to disincentives people going back to work. And it now seems that your prediction turned out to be true. There's a Cato Institute survey of this. It showed that two thirds of people who went on unemployment for the covid lockdown's are making more money than they would have made had they remained at their jobs.
And one third of people actually made two times or, you know, to 2x their salary, which is wonderful for them. I don't think we begrudge anybody money, but that is a recipe to keep people out of work that would seem to have a political objective in an election year.
Well, incentives matter. And the dumbest part of of what Congress did already in this crisis was creating massive disincentives to work. And in particular, what Congress did is added six hundred dollars a week to the already existing unemployment compensation. So, look, we had an unemployment system. If you lost your job, you could file firefighter to file for unemployment. That's designed to be to help you meet basic necessities. But it's designed to be substantially less than your job was because you want people who've lost their job to have strong incentives to go back to work.
The best thing if someone's out of work is to help them get back to work. Adding six hundred dollars to unemployment, let me give you some math and I apologize to everyone. The podcast, there was supposed to be no math. They told me that I didn't sign up for this. Let me give you just a little bit. So it used to be the maximum weekly unemployment check in Texas was five hundred and twenty one dollars a week. When Congress added six hundred dollars to that, that took it to eleven hundred and twenty one dollars a week, more than doubled it.
That works out. To about fifty eight thousand dollars a year or about twenty eight dollars an hour. Now, think about it for a second, if you're if you're working, waiting tables, if you're working in an hourly job.
You only make it twenty eight bucks an hour, and if suddenly the government pays you more to stay home than to go back to work, well, naturally you're not going to go back to work. I mean, if you're paid more to do something else, you're going to follow the incentives. But that's terrible for you and it's terrible for the economy. And it's why Nancy Pelosi wants to keep doing it and the Republicans are falling in this trap. Sixty eight percent of people nationally right now because of what Congress did are receiving more on unemployment than their previous salary.
20 percent are receiving double. Their previous salary, if you're getting paid twice as much not to work as to work. What are you going to do? I mean, that ain't complicated, and it's why Nancy Pelosi is all in on wanting to keep that going right until November 3rd, right until the election. But Republicans shouldn't be complicit in that, and I, I talk to small business owners every single day that they're trying to reopen their businesses and they can't hire their employees.
They're calling their employees and come back and they're saying, understandably, why would we come back? We're getting paid more not to. That is disastrous for getting the economy moving again and getting people back on their feet.
Right. It's a pretty deceitful tactic, it would seem. I understand the political objectives the Democrats have. But, you know, you're not you're not getting what they seem to be proposing. You know, this has this underhanded aspect. And I think that ties in pretty well with another underhanded display we saw from Democrats on Capitol Hill this week, which was the Bill Barr testimony. Yeah.
Let me actually stop you there and go back to the prior topic for a second, OK? Which is let me tell you right now what is pretty good in the Republican bill. OK, and what could be good in the Republican bill, so there are two elements that are mildly good in the Republican bill. Number one, it includes actually legislation that I've introduced that is for school choice, that creates federal tax credits for contributions to scholarship, granting organizations for K through 12 education.
That's really good and it's really important and it's really substantive and it's transformational. And as you know, I'm passionate about school choice. Now, the problem is the Democrats are. Passionately opposed because the teachers unions oppose choice, and my concern is the Republican negotiators will give that up at the table that it's in there, but it's not going to stay in there, that it's in there to be a bargaining chip, to be give it up. The second good element right now is some liability protection, and there's no doubt it's a real problem right now for any small business, for any school, for any university that opens.
They're going to be sued. All of them are going to be trial lawyers are going to descend upon them, because if any customer gets sick, if any employee gets sick immediately, they're getting sued. So I very much agree with the objective of providing some reasonable liability protection so that people could OK, but it's not their fault. It's not like the the small businesses, not like the movie theater created this this this coronavirus from Wuhan, China. And it doesn't make sense for billions of dollars of damage judgments to make a bunch of plaintiffs lawyers rich suing everybody.
But the problem is those same plaintiffs lawyers are along with the teachers unions, the biggest donors to the Democrats, so they're going to fight to water that provision down. So those two provisions are right now pretty good. But my concern is they will be gutted. Here's what we ought to be doing instead. We ought to be engaged in pro-growth policy, so, for example, instead of just shoveling cash out the door, one thing we could do is between now and the end of the year, suspend the payroll tax.
That results in for you and for everyone basically at immediate pay raise in your job, because the payroll tax you pay out of your pocket, suddenly your take home pay is higher. But that's an incentive for work. Suddenly, your employer, a portion of your payroll tax, your employer pays. Suddenly, the cost of employees are bringing back an employee has gone down for your employer. That is a pro-growth incentive. That is a pro jobs incentive.
That is all about helping encourage people to go back to work and work more. That's a very worthwhile thing to do. Another example of a very good thing to do. I've got legislation on health savings accounts. So health savings accounts are accounts where you can save in a tax advantage way for health care needs. The problem is current law prohibits most people from having a health savings account. The only instance in which you're allowed to have a health savings account is if you have a high deductible health insurance plan, which most people don't have.
I have legislation that says everyone can have a health savings plan that just lets everyone have one that is really important health care reform right now in terms of changing the system, driving down the cost of health care, making health care more affordable.
And we're in the middle of a pandemic. People are understandably concerned with. With health care costs, this would be really meaningful reform, so I this is something I urge the president and I said, by the way, for the Republicans that want to shovel cash. Look, we've got the checks of twelve hundred dollars sent out to everyone, my parents both received twelve hundred dollar checks. They don't need a twelve hundred dollar check, but but Congress sent them one.
The proposals to do it again, I said, listen, if you are really intent on on throwing money out of a helicopter. How about taking the twelve hundred dollars and populating it in a health savings account for everyone? So that everyone can suddenly have a health savings account to meet health care costs, if you must spend the money, actually spend it in a way that does some positive good.
Right. Next week, I'm going to introduce a bill that I'm calling the Recovery Act. That is going to be a whole series of pro jobs, pro growth steps that if we're going to take our focus, should be getting people back to work. And right now, the current so-called Republican bill that is going to lose a lot of Republican votes if and when we vote on it is not focused on jobs. Pelosi wants jobs to go away. And right now.
Basically, the Republican bill took the Nancy Pelosi bill, divided all the numbers by three and proposed the same damn thing, we should have different ideas, ideas that work. And a final political point. So are there some Republicans who are really scared we got to do this, we just got to do it, it's an election. You've got to spend money. Look in the battle to be Santa Claus.
Republicans will always lose if suddenly we pony up three trillion dollars, they'll go to four like like there's no limit and frankly. Show me the voter out there that's really looking for a bunch of cash. That's actually going to vote for the president because of it, if you want someone to bankrupt the country and bankrupt your kids and grandkids in order to get more cash, right now, you're going to vote Democrat. Yeah, I think it's a null set, we should be the party of jobs and growth and prosperity and higher wages.
Look at other proposal. I told the president if you want to spend money. Waive the federal income tax for the next six months up to a certain amount, that again puts real money in people's pockets now. And unlike what's being proposed, it doesn't kill jobs. We should be creating jobs, not killing jobs. Well, I love this point, you're making know you're never going to out Democrat the Democrats, you're never going to vote liberal the liberals.
There's a famous conservative book from many decades ago called A Choice, Not an Echo. You want you want to actually have a choice in your politicians when you go to the ballot box. And I got to tell you, as somebody who has an HSA, who uses an HMO, I love a Jessa's. I think is it's brilliant. It's shocking to me that they have not been more popular. They haven't been more encouraged over time. And I think a lot of that is federal law prohibits it.
The reason they're not more popular is Congress. Unless you have a high deductible health insurance plan, it is illegal for you to have it HSA. The point I'm trying to make to the other Republicans like. Is there anything we want to accomplish that actually would be good and fix the problem? We shouldn't rush out like Chicken Little and say we must do something to do something, let's do something that would work and help people get back to work. That's right.
There are a lot a lot of perverse incentives I noticed going on on the left side of the aisle on Capitol Hill. And I think nowhere was this clearer than when our former verdict guest, the attorney general, William Barr, was invited to testify on Capitol Hill. He was actually he accepted the invitation on the very day that you and I sat down with him at the Department of Justice. And so he finally goes to sit down for this hearing. And then it turned out that the Democrats in the House of Representatives didn't really want to hear a single word he had to say.
It really was stunning. When you and I were interviewing Bill Barr, you recall we nicknamed him Honey Badger, which was it planned that that was off the cuff. But if anyone didn't believe that nickname, you just had to watch the you know, the Lilliputians trying to tie him down. I mean, it was small and petty, Democrats relentlessly attacking him. And I love that Barr is completely.
Not concerned, I don't know that I've ever seen anyone drink coffee in a more dismissive way. There's something about the coffee cup that just said you are an utter buffoon. And and the part that was really ridiculous is you'd have a Democrat go given a histrionic speech. And then they declare, I reclaim my time, reclaim my time, which basically means shut up, I'm scared of your answer. I don't want you to answer me and I'll look really dumb if you do.
And they did it over and over again, reclaiming their time, reclaiming their time. And it ultimately was an expression of fear. And I'll tell you, Michael, I actually had a conversation about House Democrats reclaiming their time. A couple of days before Bill Barr testified. And let me tell you why, so next week, I'm chairing a hearing in the Senate on riots, on violence, on on on antifa, on the organized terrorists who are burning and attacking our cities.
And first witness we're going to have is Ken Cuccinelli, Ken is the deputy secretary of homeland security. Ken is the former attorney general of Virginia. He is a rock ribbed conservative. Ken is a good friend. And right now, Ken is is leading the efforts to secure the border. But he's also fighting for the federal law enforcement officers. The Democrats are, you know, Nancy Pelosi's calling them Nazi storm troopers, which is grotesque.
So when Ken and I are talking on the phone and I'm telling them, hey, can I really want you to come come to this hearing, we're cheering. He said, listen, one thing that that. He said, I really don't like when I testified at the house, is they'll attack you and then the Democrats will say, I reclaim my time. So they attack you and they don't give you a chance to respond.
And this is before the bar hearing, by the way, and I laughed and I said I said, well, Ken, let me tell you this, in any hearing I chair.
The Democrats are going to attack you, that's that's for sure, they're going to come after your party because they've decided to demagogue every police officer in America. But I can promise you, if I'm chairing the hearing, you're damn well going to get a full chance to respond to each and every attack headed your way. We have that conversation, Canice coming to the hearing and then like a day or two later, Bill Barr goes through this, this ridiculous charade where they are terrified of his answers and, quote, reclaim their time.
If the words I reclaim my time ever come out of my mouth other than quoting them throw something at me, Michael, that they simply I ain't going to say that. Senator, you've been spending too much time with the Democrats, you must come back to yourself. You know, I don't think I had read anywhere that Ken Cuccinelli is going to be testifying is that this is that is that is breaking news. We were going to announce that next week, but I just announced it with you.
Terrific. I very much look forward to to hearing that because obviously, I think this this issue of the mobs, the organized violence antifa has been at the top of a lot of people's minds. So I look forward to seeing that. And I, I look forward also to not having just echoes of reclaim my time, take up all the time that we could actually be hearing from someone who has so much to say on this. One last question before we let you go, Senator.
This is from Kira. And got a lot of people are wondering this these days if they're living in urban centers in America, is there any hope for sane people in New York City or should we flee? What about New York in general? What what is what is the future, not just maybe of New York, but of all the cities? Do we all have to flee down to Texas? All right. So let me take New York, actually.
OK, listen, I'm an optimist by nature. I believe in America. I believe in freedom, I even believe in New York. And I'll point I often point to history as foreshadowing of the future, I'll confess I think things are going to get worse in New York in the short term.
I think the malignant politics there, I think radicals like de Blasio when they're proposing cutting a billion dollars from the NYPD and AOC saying not enough, basically burn it to the ground. That's not quite what she said. But she said defund it, abolish it, which is the same thing. In the short term, New York is going to head to some dark, dark days, and it's but New York went through this in the 60s and 70s. And we saw rampant crime in New York, New York was facing bankruptcy, I mean, the policies of the far left, they don't work.
And every time they're implemented, particularly in the extreme, they they are a disaster. So what's the good news? Is that when people see the disaster, they often open up their eyes and say, hey, this doesn't make any sense, let's change it, and New York had a renaissance. Why do they have a renaissance? Remember Rudy Giuliani when he was elected and not Rudy Rudy today, as it is a very different person than Mayor Rudy was when he was first elected, but New Yorkers were sick and tired.
They were sick and tired of the crime. They were sick and tired of the violence. They were sick and tired of the shambles the city had had gone through and Rudy got elected on. Remember the broken Windows theory, which is let's let's when you go into a neighborhood and you see shattered windows, you see graffiti and you see rot. That makes all of the rest of violent crime more likely, and so go repair the windows, go clean up the graffiti, go stop the squeegee guys who used to just dump crap on your car in the streets and it actually stops the rest of violent crime to.
So de Blasio and the radicals have forgotten those lessons. I think they will go through a dark period and many of our cities may go through a dark period, but when the failures of radical left policies become evident, I think people will turn back to them and say, hey, we want a New York City where you can walk in Central Park again and be safe. We want a New York City where you can open a business and survive. There are many things about New York that are extraordinary, that are wonderful, that it has been a the Statue of Liberty invites the whole world.
We've seen immigrants from across the globe come to New York to make it. But the policies of the socialist can destroy all of that, but we'll come out of it.
That's why I think a lot of the moving trucks are heading down to your state senator. And, you know, I'm a New Yorker and I live in Los Angeles. Both my cities have me wanting to fly straight down to where you are, probably not aboard Air Force One. I haven't gotten that invitation yet, but maybe I'll fly commercial and see you there. A Southwest one. You can sit in any seat. That's true.
I got some drink tickets to. We will have to pause it there until next time. Thank you, Senator. I'm Michael Noles. This is verdict with Ted Cruz.