Brad Byrd In-Depth: Rep. Larry Bucshon talks tax reform, healthcare

There are several hot topics going on in Washington D.C. at this time, and lawmakers are starting looking towards next year's election.

Brad Byrd talks with Indiana 8th District Congressman Larry Bucshon about tax reform, healthcare debates, North Korea, and the recently low approval ratings for Congress.

Transcript of interview:

Brad Byrd: "And welcome to In-Depth. The Indiana 8th Congressional District will once again be the center of a contested race. Incumbent Congressman Larry Bucson will seek his fifth term in 2018. Already Dr. Robert Moss who lost to Bucshon in the 2016 Primary will challenge him again in the Primary. And Democrat and lawyer William Tanoos right now is the sole Democrat running after Glen Miller through his support to him. I'm joined tonight Congressman Bucshon. Once again, thanks for joining us and being here tonight. 

Rep. Bucshon: "Good to be here tonight." 

Brad Byrd: "I know that you’re going to be attending several veterans day events tomorrow."

Rep. Bucshon: "I am."

Brad Byrd:  "But we appreciate the time you’re giving us tonight.  I want to underline we offer this table to any candidate in the 8th District race and we’ve got about a year to go until Election Day. Well, first of all, tax reform. It impacts everyone. And, doc, President Trump has already said he’d like to see this signed by Christmas. Any chance in the world that will happen?"

Rep. Bucshon: "I think that could happen."

Brad Byrd: "It could? It really could?" 

Rep. Bucshon: "House Republicans have been working on tax reform, really, for years. And Speaker Ryan, this has been a focus of his almost his entire career, so I think on the house side next week when we go back into session by the end of the week, we’ll pass tax reform across the House floor. The senate has just released their bill. They’re going to work on it this week in committee and, hopefully, get that passed some time after Thanksgiving and those versions will need to be reconciled and I would hope that we could get those to the president by Christmas."

Brad Byrd: "A variation of the word that you just said, reconciled ... reconciliation between the House and Senate. That has been a major stumbling block. Especially with healthcare because the House passed that healthcare bill and then there was  a major ceremony. You were there with the president, but in the Senate, the famous thumbs down by Senator John McCain. The same could be said about tax reform because you’ve got to get these conference committees together to come up with some type. Is there common ground this time, at least with the tax reform bill?"

Rep. Bucshon: "Yeah, I think so. Because the House and Senate and White House all worked together ahead of time to get basic principles laid down and what the coals are. The goals with tax reform are to get taxes down for everyone with a focus on the middle class. Wages have been flat for a long time, so we want to get taxes down on the job creators -- so called pass-throughs -- the small businesses.  And we also want to make sure that our international companies are competitive with the rest of the world so they can bring high-paying jobs back to the United States. You know,  that’s what we’re struggling with, Brad, is we have low wages, we don’t have good middle class jobs, so we want to get taxes down on the individuals’ side on everyone, focusing on the middle class, but we also want to make ourselves more competitive and I think we can do that."

Brad Byrd: "And you’re response then to the universal theme from the critics of this tax reform measure is, it’s going to be a big benefit for the wealthy and the middle class will basically be seeing a big hurt."

Rep. Bucshon: "That’s not factually true. In fact, in the House version we keep the top  tax bracket in place. And if you look at the tax reform broadly, and it has been looked at, the focus is on getting tax cuts for the middle class. So, the average American family making $59,000 a year will get about a $1,200 tax cut. So, you know, that criticism, I think, is for political reasons because it’s a good talking point.  Because I think our opponents on tax reform know that Republicans really, you know, we’re under the gun here. We failed on healthcare on the senate side and tax reform is something that we’ve promised for many years and we have to be successful."

Brad Byrd: "And healthcare, let’s ... it takes this back to healthcare."

Rep. Bucshon: "It does." 

Brad Byrd: "Any chance that there’s going to be some type of agreement between, not necessarily Republicans and Democrats, but between the House and the Senate?"

Rep. Bucshon: "I think we’re going to see some action next year on healthcare and I think some of it will be bi-partisan. And the reason is because prices are still going up for insurance. People can’t afford it. What I’m working on is getting the cost of healthcare itself down and we’re trying to do that with price transparency and some other things. But I think there’ll be action on healthcare next year. I mean, we have to. The American people are hurting. People are being priced out of the marketplace and costs are going up."  

Brad Byrd: Okay. And of course, we are celebrating our veterans.  We are ... we have been doing that all week. But there is still this unfortunate situation about an American veteran unable to get timely healthcare in this county and it where is that going and how can politics be put aside to make that work for veterans."

Rep. Bucshon: "First of all, we’ve already done a couple of things in congress and they were signed into law by President Obama. One of those was the Choice Act where we were able to veterans who were on the waiting list to get seen at the VA were able to go to the private sector and we just extended that again this August. We’ve also passed some legislation and president has signed that into law ... President Trump ... that allows us at the VA to get rid of employees that just aren’t doing their job on behalf of veterans. We’ve not been able to do that in federal agencies. So, you know, Congress’ big focus is on getting healthcare for America’s veterans. And I’ve trained partially at the VA in Milwaukee. I spent about 2 ½ years there of my 7 years of residency. I know the VA. I like the VA. But it’s not serving our veterans across the country and Congress is acting. We’re making the best changes that we can but we need to keep up the pressure."

Brad Byrd: "And Congress acting. Let’s talk about the perception right now. It may be fair or unfair, but Congress in general, lawmakers in general, and this is not just Republican. It’s Democrat." 

Rep. Bucshon: "I think people are tired of bickering  taking partisan positions  perceptions is reality. Republican side we said we’d do something about healthcare and there’s been some frustration there. American people, the poll numbers are reaching historical lows for approval ratings for U.S. Lawmakers. What do you say to that?"

Rep. Bucshon: "Well, I think people are tired of bickering. You know, when you go and see on tv the pundits as well as the politicians - some, not myself - but others taking partisan positions and not willing to try to find middle ground. Look, some of that’s perception. Some of that is reality and I know on the Republican side, you know, we said that we would do something about healthcare, we’ve not been successful so there is some frustration there."

Brad Byrd: "And Steve Bannon who was right in that oval office with President Trump before he left, he has been very open. He’s basically calling for the dismantling of how our government works ... at least on Capitol Hill."

Rep. Bucshon: "Yeah, I think that."

Brad Byrd: "Does that concern you?"

Rep. Bucshon: "You know, I think that type of rhetoric is not that helpful. I mean, the reality is what that’s about is to try to win elections for people that he tends to favor. But the reality is that Washington DC right now is a reflection, I think, of the entire country. We are very divided. And I don’t think it’s helpful when political leaders use divisive language because it further divides the American people. And I think that’s on both sides of the aisle."

Brad Byrd: "Okay, would you say President Trump is included in that?"

Rep. Bucshon: "Everybody is included in that. I think it’s not helpful. I think that it’s very destructive. You see that on the left and on the right across our country. And people like myself, the vast majority of the members of Congress in both parties, are trying to work together. Look, we have our values, we have our beliefs,  we’re gonna stick to those. But we want to work together on behalf of the American people." 

Brad Byrd: "And very briefly, congressman. North Korea, president is on this 12 day tour abroad. Some of his rhetoric has been very, very forceful on North Korea. You concerned? Is this a more dangerous world we’re living in now because of North Korea?"

Rep. Bucshon: "It is. It is a little bit because of North Korea. But I'm not concerned about the president's rhetoric because I think for the last 25 years or so the North Koreans have advanced towards a nuclear weapon. We've tried all kinds of things including sanctions be tougher now. The key to this is the president's conversation with the Chinese president entailed, and we don't know the results of that yet. But we need the Chinese to help in that area of the world, and I think they're going to do that. So, it is a dangerous time, but I'm not worried about it because I think at the end of the day the Chinese and other surrounding countries as well as the United States will thwart this threat." 

Brad Byrd: "Alright, Congressman Larry Bucshon, thank you so much for joining us tonight and having this conversation. I'm sure we'll have more and with the other candidates in the next year." 

Rep. Bucshon: "I appreciate you having me." 

Brad Byrd: "Alright."

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(This story was originally published on Nov. 10, 2017)

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