Interviews

Rep. Meadows slams new push to bring back earmarks

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 9, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: To North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, of course, of the House Freedom Caucus, generally loathe to this sort of thing, but I could be wrong.

How do you feel about this, Congressman?

(LAUGHTER)

REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-N.C.: Well, I think to bring back earmarks at this particular juncture sends entirely the wrong message.

And actually it's going to other way. It won't drain the swamp. It will actually fill the swamp. And so to suggest that we need to bring back earmarks that have been banned for the latter part of the last six years is going in the wrong direction.

I think we can be fiscally responsible, make good legislation, hopefully work with president-elect Trump and his administration to get the priorities that are important for the American people.

But to bring back the earmark ban is certainly -- the timing couldn't be worse at this particular point in time.

CAVUTO: I can't imagine Donald Trump liking this. It has a swampish feel to it. But I do understand the method to the frenzied madness.

It's a way to get votes on the stuff you want and a small price to pay for the stuff you want. That's the argument. What do you think of that?

MEADOWS: Well, and that is a valid argument.

I will say this. The power of the purse is something that Congress should have. And there are those who argue, and argue it very effectively, that we have kind of let that go. I can tell you, there was one particular rule that we put in the House just a few days ago called the Holman Rule that actually allows us to kind of tailor-made and use a scalpel to look back at bringing back that power of the purse.

But it typically would have to have a lot more checks and balances. I know that most of my colleagues will not support this. And so I'm hopeful that common sense rules the day and we get on about repealing the Affordable Care Act, doing some things that the American people have demanded.

I haven't heard anybody back home saying, please bring back earmarks.  That's not normally the cry that we get.

CAVUTO: No, I didn't think so.

While I'm talking to you now, we're getting word that House Speaker Paul Ryan will be meeting with representatives of president-elect Donald Trump's team. And among the items to be discussed tonight, Congressman, are tax reform, obviously a major priority for you and the incoming administration.

But I'm wondering whether everyone is on the same page. We're increasingly hearing word that the tax cuts might be as big as the president-elect wants or maybe guys like you want. What are you hearing?

MEADOWS: Yes, there is about a five percentage point difference right now, Neil.

I think that president-elect Trump wants it to be corporate about 15 percent. The Better Way plan is at 20 percent. But I do think that there's some common ground. I have talked to Chairman Brady multiple times over the last three or four days.

Conservatives are willing to help out, carry some of the water, because you are going to have to talk and say no to some of those special interest groups to get truly tax form and make it simplified.

But in order to grow the economy, you know this better than any, we're really going to have to make it business friendly. We are going to have to put out the sign that we're open for business here in the United States.  That includes both regulatory reform and tax reform that...

CAVUTO: But you could live with a 20 percent business rate? It would still be down dramatically from where we are, but you could live with that?

MEADOWS: Yes. As you look at 20 percent, it's certainly better than what was proposed in the last Congress. And so we're taking a step in the right direction.

Ultimately, I think it ends up at 17 or 18 percent.

CAVUTO: You think individual rates will similarly go down, or is that a battle to be fought for another day? Or should these all be joined together as part of an omnibus tax package?

MEADOWS: Part of Chairman Brady is talking about really bringing down individual rates and bringing them to three tiers, so that we will see some of that go down as well.

Honestly, it's probably easier to work it on the personal side than on the corporate side as you look at the complex nature of our tax code.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: When you say the three tiers, you're talking about a 15, 25 and 35 deal? Is that...

MEADOWS: Yes.

So, you will actually bring those -- compress those down, where we will actually look at making those work for hardworking American taxpayers. And I'm real positive about what I have heard coming out of the Ways and Means Committee so far. It's not going to be without some difficulty in terms of special interest groups.

But I think that we're going to keep that mortgage deduction and be able to do some of the things that are important to families across the country.

CAVUTO: Would you be OK with one part of the plan that would for the wealthy? I think Steve Mnuchin, the pick to be the treasury secretary, has said keep it revenue-neutral, make it simpler, but that they're not paying any less in taxes than they are now?

MEADOWS: Really, when we look at that, the details, I'm trying to not only look at revenue-neutral, but I'm also wanting to look at what they call dynamic scoring, Neil.

When we really look at it, sometimes, here on Capitol Hill, they don't take into effect the job growth that will come out of that. As long as they're willing to consider that, I think we will be in a better place. And we're committed to working in a bipartisan way to make sure that everybody sees job growth and job security as the number one thing in 2017.

CAVUTO: All right, we will watch closely.

Congressman Meadows, thank you very much. Great seeing you again.

MEADOWS: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

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