Sen. Mike Lee on Killing the Export-Import Bank, Primarying Republicans, And His Mormonism

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& Amanda Winkler July 11, 2014

"We've had a 75 or 80 year run with some really aggressive progressive policies," Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). "They haven't worked. They have enhanced America's opportunity deficit, and the American people want a more conservative government."

In 2010, Lee launched a successful primary challenge to three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett and went on to win the general election with 61 percent of the vote. Lee credits hotly contested primary elections not just with his own career but with keeping the Republican Party accountable to its constituents and the values it claims to hold.

"In order for the Republican Party, or any political party for that matter, to be able to lay any claim to be a party of principle, there needs to be a robust debate within that party. And for that to occur I think primary elections will always need to happen," Lee tells Reason TV's Nick Gillespie.  

Lee talks about the rise of the Tea Party faction in Congress (of which he is a leader), why the GOP is failing to connect with millennials, and the role of religion in politics. A graduate of Brigham Young University, Lee says his Mormon faith shapes his views on the proper role of government, but adds

As a voter what I look for is whether somebody shares my view of government and its proper role. That person may or may not share my faith; that person may or may not have any faith. I’m hiring them not to be my minister. I’m hiring them to represent me in government. I want to know what they think the proper role of government is.

About 20 minutes.

Camera by Amanda Winkler and Meredith Bragg. Edited by Winkler.

Music by Onyx Ashanti (http://onyx-ashanti.com/)

Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to receive notification when new material goes live.

Here is a rush transcript of the interview. All quotes should be checked against the audio for accuracy.

GILLESPIE: Hi I’m Nick Gillespie with Reason TV and today we’re talking with Senator Mike Lee. He is one of the architects, and I’d argue probably the intellectual heavyweight of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, certainly in the Senate and the tea-party faction. Senator Lee, thanks for talking to us.

LEE: Thank you.

GILLESPIE: Out of the box, the export-import bank which you’ve identified just as a kind of exemplum of cronyism looks like it’s finally on its last legs. Do you think its not going to be reauthorized and if so, what does that tell us about the spirit of reform both in D.C. generally as well as the Republican Party.

LEE: I think there’s a growing movement in this country that is against having government pick winners and losers in industry and the export-import bank is a sort of example of this sort of thing. Look, when US manufacturers can obtain financing in the private marketplace, we ought not have a government agency set up specifically to do this. Otherwise we run the risk of having the government pick winners and losers in industry.

GILLESPIE: What changed? Just two years ago Eric Cantor, former majority leader who got primaryed out of his seat, led the charge on the Republican side in the house to reauthorize the export-import bank which essentially gives financing to foreign companies or foreign governments to buy US products. So what happened in two years that it went from the majority leader leading the charge to reauthorize it to him getting bounced to the curb?

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason TV and the co-author of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, just out in paperback.

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Amanda Winkler is a producer at Reason TV.

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  • Invisible Finger|7.11.14 @ 3:17PM|#

    I can understand killing people running for office, but why does he want to kill his Mormonism? Can't he just stop calling himself a Mormon?

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  • Monkey's Uncle|7.11.14 @ 3:22PM|#

    Mike Lee is at the lesser offensive end of the Udall family.

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  • |7.11.14 @ 3:36PM|#

    I think 'at the state level' should be rephrased or somehow other distinguished with 'from the state level on down'.

    I think it's a false bastardization of conservatives or libertarians who verbally balance personal freedom, minimal government, and NIMBY.

    Esp. for something like gambling where such a small percentage of a capriciously defined population can change the market and property rights of a small municipality so dramatically. I think there ought to be a way for the neighborhood to defend itself in much the same function that the electoral college serves. I don't necessarily agree that a regional state is the best way to do that, but I'm neither in favor of taking any tools out of the municipalities hand, nor am I in favor of allocating said power to a more federal level.

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  • MegaloMonocle|7.11.14 @ 4:29PM|#

    Esp. for something like gambling a Sriracha factory where such a small percentage of a capriciously defined population can change the market and property rights of a small municipality so dramatically.

    I think there ought to be a way for the neighborhood local busybodies to defend itself control other people's property in much the same function that the electoral college serves.

    Frankly, the reference to the electoral college totally escapes me here.

    All snark aside, aren't you just describing zoning laws?

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  • RishJoMo|7.11.14 @ 5:15PM|#

    I like the way that is shaping up dude. Wow.

    www.AnonToolz.tk

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  • |7.11.14 @ 5:55PM|#

    We've had a 75 or 80 year run with some really aggressive progressive policies," Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). "They haven't worked.

    Careful now. The import export bank is part of the new deal...and if Tony gets a whiff that you want to dismantle the New Deal he will conniption fit all over the place.

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  • David Wall|7.11.14 @ 6:10PM|#

    Sounds like this guy has finally figured out that running against cronyism is a winning ticket. That D.A. Cantor never did.

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