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Ep. 394: US Congressman Carlos Curbelo

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep. 394: US Congressman Carlos Curbelo

Ep. 394: US Congressman Carlos Curbelo

Congressman Carlos Curbelo returns and shares his concerns for those incarcerated for low level crimes: “The more relief we can provide, the better. I think, you know, in the context of criminal justice reform and everything else, most people are coming around to the understanding that excluding people, whether it’s locking them up or making it difficult for them to vote or to get a job or anything else, that’s just not a way to promote a healthy society. We need to promote healing, rehabilitation.”

Transcript:

Speaker 1: US Congressman Carlos Curbelo returns. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes on cannacademy.com, that's two Ns and the word 'economy'. Got a lot going on there these days. Congressman Curbelo takes us through his thinking. He is going on to a different path now. We kind of talk a little bit about that. So along with, of course, cannabis legalization, legislation, reform. First a word from Evolab and then Congressman Carlos Curbelo.

Speaker 2: We had already cracked the CBN nut, that's just a degradation of THC. So we already had that in the portfolio.

Speaker 1: Fair enough.

Speaker 2: But CBG I did go out hunting for. I've always thought that it would have been one of the easier ones to find. Some of the others like THCB are still elusive, but CBG, again, available. And the nice part, other than it being an anti inflammatory, is it has some antimicrobial, antibacterial properties, which makes it great as a topical or hopefully to put it into a lozenge for sore throats.

Speaker 1: Congressman Carlos Curbelo, thank you so much for sitting down. I am explicitly excited to have this conversation because who sits in front of me, from my eyes and ears and heart, is a reasonable person.

Speaker 2: Well, thank you. That's a rarity these days here and a major compliment. 30 years ago, that would have just been normal.

Speaker 1: Just a normal thing to say about someone, that he's reasonable.

Speaker 2: Thank you.

Speaker 1: So yeah, no, but I mean, there are things that say, you know, fourth most bipartisan congressman, are you aware of such attributes?

Speaker 2: I am, I am. And quite frankly, I think it's the only way this place is going to work again. And sadly, I don't see that happening in the near future, the American people are going to have to demand that in a more explicit, in a stronger way. But this institution is broken. I am going to miss it for sure, but there are some elements of it that I won't miss. Because I am, I like to consider myself a reasonable person who likes to compromise, negotiate, dialogue, see what I can give the person across the table what they need and move forward.

Speaker 1: US Congressman Carlos Curbelo returns. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes on cannacademy.com, that's two Ns and the word 'economy'. Got a lot going on there these days. Congressman Curbelo takes us through his thinking. He is going on to a different path now. We kind of talk a little bit about that. So along with, of course, cannabis legalization, legislation, reform. First a word from Evolab and then Congressman Carlos Curbelo.

Speaker 2: We had already cracked the CBN nut, that's just a degradation of THC. So we already had that in the portfolio.

Speaker 1: Fair enough.

Speaker 2: But CBG I did go out hunting for. I've always thought that it would have been one of the easier ones to find. Some of the others like THCB are still elusive, but CBG, again, available. And the nice part, other than it being an anti inflammatory, is it has some antimicrobial, antibacterial properties, which makes it great as a topical or hopefully to put it into a lozenge for sore throats.

Speaker 1: Congressman Carlos Curbelo, thank you so much for sitting down. I am explicitly excited to have this conversation because who sits in front of me, from my eyes and ears and heart, is a reasonable person.

Speaker 2: Well, thank you. That's a rarity these days here and a major compliment. 30 years ago, that would have just been normal.

Speaker 1: Just a normal thing to say about someone, that he's reasonable.

Speaker 2: Thank you.

Speaker 1: So yeah, no, but I mean, there are things that say, you know, fourth most bipartisan congressman, are you aware of such attributes?

Speaker 2: I am, I am. And quite frankly, I think it's the only way this place is going to work again. And sadly, I don't see that happening in the near future, the American people are going to have to demand that in a more explicit, in a stronger way. But this institution is broken. I am going to miss it for sure, but there are some elements of it that I won't miss. Because I am, I like to consider myself a reasonable person who likes to compromise, negotiate, dialogue, see what I can give the person across the table what they need and move forward.

Speaker 1: Yeah. So the institution itself either needs to be worked on. The American people, there needs to be worked done there too. Because in your district, you represented it, you support DACA, you know, let's talk about climate change. "Let's actually talk about climate change and maybe even come up with solutions," says Carlos Curbelo.

Speaker 2: Right.

Speaker 1: And for that, you know, we've got what an Affordable Care Act vote, I would imagine that was an issue in that district.

Speaker 2: Right.

Speaker 1: What else would they have, did you feel the constituents saw that they didn't appreciate from you?

Speaker 2: Here's what happens in politics these days, the individual records of each representative are less and less relevant, because all of these elections get nationalized.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 2: So it's not so much about your member of Congress and the type of representation that your community is getting. It's about whatever the national headlines are. And that's a shame because, you know, a lot of people on both sides of the aisle, we saw this in 2010 with the democrats and now we see it in 2018 with Republicans, the centrist members, the ones that are trying to reach across the aisle, the ones that are trying to compromise and find solutions, those are the ones that get swept away in these wave elections. And the waves happen and form because a lot of voters are so upset maybe at what's happening with the president, with the administration, national and international headlines that they ignore what's closest to them.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Which is their member of Congress. Right?

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: That's the chamber that's most tied, most, you know, closest to the American people. So we saw that dynamic in 2018, not just in my district, but a lot of other, even on the Ways and Means Committee. A lot of colleagues that are true centrists, that join me in efforts to kind of force an immigration solution, provide a future for dreamers in our country. A lot of those members got swept away too. And I think for the institution, forget about us as individuals, but for the institution, when members like that depart it just makes things worse.

Speaker 1: Yeah, because then you got all the way over there and then all the way over there. And how are those people going to compromise?

Speaker 2: Right.

Speaker 1: They came here not to compromise.

Speaker 2: And the more polarized that we are inside the Congress, the less likely that we will get the solutions we need. Whether it's immigration, health care, cannabis, you know, all these issues that cry for solutions. The more polarized the institution is, the less likely anything good will get done.

Speaker 1: Let's dive in on cannabis while, you know-

Speaker 2: Sure.

Speaker 1: That important word has come up. You know, Farm Gill on the table, I like to call it the Hemp Bill.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Podcast land knows no time, but the Senate voted yesterday. Sounds like the House is going to vote today. Sounds like it's going to go through. Sounds like, as I read it, CBD gets de-scheduled, right? Because if we amend the Controlled Substances Act, that does the trick. Doesn't it?

Speaker 2: That's how I read it. And, you know, this is not going to make major news, but for people like you who follow it very closely, you do see how significant this is. And kudos to everyone who worked on this, worked to educate Mitch McConnell. I think when he came out a few months ago and said, this is the way we have to go on hemp, that was just a landmark moment for this entire movement.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: So yeah, this Farm Bill will be good news. And hopefully it will continue, kind of flattening the the landscape here so that we can make even more progress in the next Congress.

Speaker 1: Okay, just staying on cannabis, your bill that you had introduced with Tulsi Gabbard about research. I still think that's a good idea to actually research the plant.

Speaker 2: Certainly. And there will remain many cannabis reform champions in the Congress. Tulsi is certainly one of them. Matt Gaetz from the panhandle.

Speaker 1: Sure.

Speaker 2: He has really owned this issue, been intellectually honest in explaining it and insisting upon it, got the judiciary committee to move as well. And kind of just endorse the idea that we can research, learn about this substance and figure out what is the best way to regulate it at the federal level.

Speaker 1: I saw actually that debate, which was, I guess, originally on c-span, and the bone of contention, which also kind of is similar in the Farm Bill of if you've got a felony, you can't come in. Now in this Farm Bill, you can come in after 10 years or something like that. What are your thoughts on that kind of, you know, kind of pushing folks out because they've maybe made some mistakes in the past right off the bat as opposed to kind of bringing them in once they've had a come to Jesus moment, so to speak? I'll say to you.

Speaker 2: Well, look, the more relief we can provide, the better. I think, you know, in the context of criminal justice reform and everything else, most people are coming around to the understanding that excluding people, whether it's locking them up or making it difficult for them to vote or to get a job or anything else, that's just not a way to promote a healthy society. We need to promote healing, rehabilitation. I was, I think, the only Republican in Florida to support restoring voting rights for felons once they've paid their debts to society. And I really see that this kind of thinking is seeping into other areas of the law.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: And of the debate here in Congress. And that's generally a good thing. Now we can't go too far because then we'll lose the American public. You know, for people who are violent offenders, people who have committed sex crimes against children, for example, that's-

Speaker 1: Burn in hell is my personal opinion on that one. You know.

Speaker 2: Exactly. Those are my words, not yours. Those are people for whom we don't, you know, need to be as generous about re-entry into society. But everyone else, especially when it comes to, you know, substance, possession of substances that have been illegal for some time. I mean, we really have to take a more intelligent approach.

Speaker 1: When you say something like, you know, once you've paid your debt to society, you can come back in and vote, what do other members of your parties, they must look at you like you're an insane person?

Speaker 2: Well, here's a problem, I think a lot of people take the short view.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: And for a lot of people it's about 'Well, what does this mean for the next election?' And I don't think that type of mentality is conducive to building a stronger, healthier, more prosperous society. It's just like a lot of colleagues on the immigration issue. "Oh, well, if we grant, you know, all these people citizenship, they're all going to vote against us." And I said, you know, that's not true, especially if we're the ones who voted to allow them the opportunity to legalize and eventually to become citizens. Some of them might actually appreciate that.
And, you know, I'm just so a lot more sober about these things. I think whether it's ex-felons, or whether it's immigrants, once they are welcomed into society, they're probably going to distribute somewhat normally on the bell curve of the [crosstalk 00:10:43] kind of work they do, how they vote, where they live.

Speaker 1: There you go. Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Speaker 2: So I think we have to take the long view and say, "Well, let's stop worrying about the next two years. Let's think about the next 10, 15, 20 years." You know, we're at a great disadvantage, the Chinese think in terms of the next 50 years.

Speaker 1: Sure.

Speaker 2: And of course they have some advantages that I don't want us to have. They don't have real elections.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 2: And they have a dictatorship and they don't respect human rights. But I think we can-

Speaker 1: With those caveats.

Speaker 2: Exactly. I think we can mature and realize that, you know, thinking about the next six months and about the next year is really no way to manage a country, the greatest country in the world. And right now we have a lot of people who are excluded from our society because they made, what were regarded back then, mistakes. Increasingly marijuana possession is not a state crime at least throughout our country.

Speaker 1: Right, there we go.

Speaker 2: So all these laws have to evolve.

Speaker 1: So they'll push forward. And on immigration, you bring that up. We're talking about another government shutdown because hey, you know, why not talk about a government shutdown? Every possibility that we have.

Speaker 2: That's what we do at the end of the year. It's not about Christmas or New Years or Hanukkah, it's about whether or not the government will remain open.

Speaker 1: Right. Exactly.

Speaker 2: So last time, I think I remember, Senator Schumer making a stand on DACA, you know, about the government shutdown and then nothing happened. That kind of lip service, I feel, it doesn't help from no matter who, left, right, whatever. If we're actually going to talk about DACA, then let's talk about DACA. Let's do the thing. How do we go a whole year without actually doing the thing? All of these people are exposing themselves. I truly believe that Leader Pelosi, Leader Schumer have very little interest in solving the DACA issue. I also think that President Trump has very little interest in actually making progress at the border.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Speaker 2: If they were interested, they would be negotiating. The way we did here a few months ago, we said, "How do we craft a solution where everyone wins?" That means a path to citizenship for 2 million dreamers, it means an investment of $25 billion in border security, this country deserves, has the right to defend its borders. It's just normal. It's what any country that has the capacity to do that does. We also put some asylum reform in there so that people have to do more to show that they're truly fleeing persecution. Because most asylum cases get denied in our country because they aren't legitimate. And then we also put in a provision to make sure we keep families together. You know, this nonsense that we saw a few months ago where children were being separated from their families, we said no more, never again. So we put all of this in a bill.
We also lifted the per country cap so that our immigration system is more intelligent. And you know, we don't have to take the same amount of people we take from India than we do from Lithuania every year. Just because they're a lot more people in India.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 2: As an example. So I think that's what people who really want to make progress do. They try to craft those kinds of solutions. These people at the White House yesterday, it's pretty obvious that none of them-

Speaker 1: All three.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Or four. Because I think Pence was there too.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Whatever.

Speaker 1: Check the video tape.

Speaker 2: Yeah. You didn't hear him, but he was there. So, you know, that's why I say and some people might be offended, say, "Well, you're saying they're being disingenuous or whatever." But they're just not acting like people who want to solve a problem.

Speaker 1: Yeah, no, absolutely. That is not the behavior that one sees. Now it's not like you're just some guy talking about this, right? Your parents, where were they born?

Speaker 2: My parents were born in Cuba and came to the United States in the early 60s. And they struggled and they've contributed a lot to this country. And they live in gratitude to this country.

Speaker 1: When you share your idea here, that you just laid out, with them, what is their reaction, I wonder? As immigrants, are they citizens now, green card, what's their?

Speaker 2: Yeah, no, they're US citizens.

Speaker 1: Okay. What's their reaction when you say, "Hey, here's my idea, Mom and Dad."

Speaker 2: They say, "That makes perfect sense. Why haven't they done it yet?"

Speaker 1: Fair enough.

Speaker 2: And the truth is, I think that's where most Americans are. A lot of people assume because I'm Hispanic or because I look the way I do that, you know, I'm offended by this idea of border security. No, I mean, we need to secure our border. There is a lot of drug trafficking at the border, there is a lot of human smuggling at the border. That's all bad. We need to put an end to that.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 2: And then we also need to be reasonable and understand that young people who came to this country at 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 years of age, who went to our schools, who have gotten college degrees, who are working and paying taxes, how could we not afford them a permanent solution where they can stay and not have to worry about getting deported every two or three years?

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: I mean, this is just common sense and it eludes this institution. And again, I hope I'm wrong, but I think the prospects for the 116th Congress are even worse.

Speaker 1: Are even worse?

Speaker 2: Yes, because you lost a lot of the deal makers.

Speaker 1: Of the moderate, of the middle.

Speaker 2: A lot of the deal makers. I hope that some of these democrats coming in, that won moderate districts, swing districts, will understand that what their districts want is not people who are going to vote in lockstep with their party leadership, not people who are going to read talking points, but people who are going to think and be honest and sincere and engage and try to get the best deal they can.

Speaker 1: What's the best way, do you think, to refocus on local? Because it feels like that's an answer. You know, because yes, there is very strong national and international media that is easy to digest. And so if I just watched that, whichever channel or what, you know, whatever site I go to, I'm going to get my feed and that'll be that. What about going down to City Hall and, you know, listening to a meeting?

Speaker 2: It's difficult and especially as you see a lot of local newspapers folding, I think it becomes more and more challenging. I definitely think there's an opportunity in the market for media companies to really focus on local. And I think there's a hunger for that because, you know, most Americans, I think, sure, they want to be aware about this bickering at the White House yesterday. But it's not the only thing they want to hear about. And if you watch CNN or MSNBC or Fox News, that's what's going to be playing all day.

Speaker 1: 100% of the time.

Speaker 2: They just have no way to cover your local community.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 2: So there's certainly an opportunity in the market there. Someone has to take advantage of that. And then it's just also very difficult with someone like Donald Trump in the White House who is in the business of making news every day. That's what he likes to do.

Speaker 1: Sure.

Speaker 2: I think some of these things he does, he does so intentionally to draw attention to himself. That is kind of hard to get around that.

Speaker 1: That's an issue. Yeah.

Speaker 2: In the future, we'll probably have someone a little more subdued in the White House, someday.

Speaker 1: No, but he's, listen. That person is, essentially, the perfect person to be the president at this moment in time, considering how we consume media.

Speaker 2: Exactly. Exactly. And given social media and everything else. I mean, the strategy is extremely opportunistic.

Speaker 1: Is there any way to kind of run away from that? Because my sense, and I asked you because you literally, you know, have had to battle for this, the angry middle, I feel like the angry middle is there.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: But when I look at an election result like yours, it almost doesn't make sense to me. But you've just explained well, because we've got to just go blue so that we can, you know, solve the issue of the big red on top, whatever.

Speaker 2: Look, and it's not that it doesn't work. Think about the fact, I've represented for two years now the most democratic leaning district in the entire country held by Republican. So there's this index and on that index my district is rated D plus six. That means democrats have an inherent six point advantage.

Speaker 1: How did you ever win to begin with?

Speaker 2: That's a good question.

Speaker 1: Different question. Right.

Speaker 2: But when you think about the fact that I got, you know, just over 49%, it was a very close election, it actually does work.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Speaker 2: A lot of those swing district voters did support me in my district.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Now what happened is that a lot of casual voters, who are just angry at the president, showed up. You know, these are what are called lower information voters, meaning they may not even know-

Speaker 1: Who you are.

Speaker 2: About my work, who I am.

Speaker 1: Exactly.

Speaker 2: They just show up and vote straight ticket and that's really what made the difference in my race.

Speaker 1: And some big national money that came in as well. Which I'm bringing up so you don't have to.

Speaker 2: That was the number one factor.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 2: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee acknowledged the Miami Herald that they spent more against me than any other republican in the country. And of course money is always the number one factor in campaign.

Speaker 1: Sure, unless you're Jesse Ventura.

Speaker 2: But I don't want people to be pessimistic. My style, my approach to this work and the campaign I ran actually did very well.

Speaker 1: Yeah. 49.1.

Speaker 2: Given my district. Outperformed Ron DeSantis, who's going to be the next governor Florida and outperform Rick Scott.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Who won the Senate seat. So the American people still reward independent thinkers who call it on as to want to work in a bipartisan way.

Speaker 1: So that is, I guess, a silver lining is that? You know?

Speaker 2: It's loser talk. But it's also true.

Speaker 1: Yeah. No, no, I mean, that, you know, this dialogue is one that I have. I have the privilege of coming down here and talking about cannabis. And so I get to talk to you and Gaetz and Blumenauer, you know, and McClintock and Don Young and these people-

Speaker 2: Dave Joyce. Dave Joyce is going to be a great leader. You need to have him on.

Speaker 1: Oh, Dave Joyce, I haven't had on just yet. But yeah, no, of course. And there are many other names. But we all agree there. Right? 66% on, you know, adult use, even more through the roof on medical. What are maybe some other issues? Because now we're starting, the horse is leaving the barn, so to speak, on cannabis. So before I ask the next question, what else do you think, can the States Act pass in this next Congress? Because you said it's going to be difficult to come to agreement on anything. So the States Act one of those things that can actually get through?

Speaker 2: I think it can. And I actually ran into Senator Gardener, who's just been stellar on this issue.

Speaker 1: Absolutely.

Speaker 2: And has been extremely, it's just been admirable because here's someone who was against the ballot initiative in Colorado. And a few years ago said, "Yeah, I was against this, but my constituents spoke and now I'm going to help them achieve their goals." That's exactly what a representative, or senator in this case, should do. So he's optimistic about the next Congress. He has put in a lot of time to educating Senate Republican leadership, Senator McConnell and others. So I think there is a good chance.
And on the Ways and Means Committee, I think this Section 280-E issue is going to advance as well, which is critical for the industry.

Speaker 1: Outside of the States Act you mean?

Speaker 2: Potentially, yes.

Speaker 1: Interesting.

Speaker 2: I know there are colleagues that are-

Speaker 1: Pushing it explicitly.

Speaker 2: Are interested in moving that, here as a statement from this committee that they can, you know, provide this relief, which is really not relief, its equity, its fairness.

Speaker 1: Right, just to be able to deduct like any other business.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Because this is not Miami Vice, Carlos. Right?

Speaker 2: Well essentially, that's what 280-E is there for.

Speaker 1: Some people shamelessly or shamefully refer to those as the good old days in Miami.

Speaker 2: Oh, wow. I don't agree with that.

Speaker 1: Good show, maybe not necessarily good times. Right, you know?

Speaker 2: Exactly.

Speaker 1: With Crockett and Tubs and whoever. All right, so I guess it goes without saying that I should ask you, what do you have planned?

Speaker 2: So, I don't have specific plans yet. The main reason for that is that I can't negotiate anything or sign anything until January 3rd when I'm officially a private citizen. But I'll tell you this. There are some issues that I worked on here that I'm extremely passionate about. We've talked about immigration, we've talked a little bit about climate change, we've talked about cannabis. I want to see this institution catch up with the American people.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: And with where the American people are. And especially, I want to see this institution be more responsive to younger generations, people our age and younger. We're young-ish, we're not young anymore, but we're still young-ish. But there are a lot of young people out there who feel, rightfully so, not feel, understand that this institution is not responsive to them. It is ignoring their priorities. It is not thinking about their futures. So I'm going to be active on those issues. I'm going to keep my voice on those issues. I think you'll see me on the television circuit advocating, encouraging my colleagues and sharing the insights that I've gained over the last four years.

Speaker 1: Good, good. And some of what you have been saying all along here feels like, you know, over my lifetime, the Legislative Branch has kind of given up power to the Executive Branch.

Speaker 2: Totally.

Speaker 1: Is one of the solutions here, you know, focusing local and kind of evening things back out again, and making it less about being a popularity contest, I don't know how much we can change, but at least evening out the power here in DC, by taking some of that rightful power back from the Executive Branch?

Speaker 2: No question. No question that that is necessary. And the most efficient or effective way of doing that is to empower each member. So much of what has been done here over the last 20 years has been pre-negotiated. A small group of people in a small room get together and decide what a massive bill is going to look like. We kind of saw this on display yesterday.

Speaker 1: Exactly. Oh, no,

Speaker 2: no. But the cameras are here. Let's go back in the room. There are 435 members of the House. One of them was sitting with the President. There are a hundred senators. One of them was sitting with the President. And those three, it didn't work out, but those three we're going to make a deal. And then the rest of us were just going to be presented that deal and said "All right, either you're for it or against it. Please be for it because we want to go home for the holidays."

Speaker 1: Sure, yeah. We don't want to be here voting.

Speaker 2: That's not legislating.

Speaker 1: At all.

Speaker 2: That diminishes each member. And that happens here all the time, all the time. This committee, the Ways and Means Committee, and we're sitting in the conference room now, could have passed a Section 280-E bill had we been allowed to legislate.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: And there are countless examples, like disrupt the Congress, immigration reform would have gotten done years ago if members of the House and Senate were allowed to negotiate, to build a bill, to amend a bill and to pass it on the floor. But instead, instead of having rigorous debates on the House floor, open rules where anyone can file an amendment, instead of, you know, giving the media that spectacle to cover, which by the way is a beautiful spectacle.

Speaker 1: Sure. Let's talk about that.

Speaker 2: We give them the spectacle out the White House. With three people, you know-

Speaker 1: Again, four. But go on.

Speaker 2: I'm sorry. I don't mean to disrespect the Vice President. I know that he was channeling, he was quietly channeling good vibes. Too bad that fell flat. But that's how it should work. And the founding fathers, clearly, article one envisioned this institution, the Congress being the protagonist, the prime mover so to speak, in our government and it isn't. And that has to change.

Speaker 1: There we go. And I do want to say, we're on our way out here, but climate change we did not talk about it. And I wonder, this is obviously a huge issue for, I'm trying to think, every single person on earth. You know, sure we could talk about Paris, but what are a couple of ideas that you have that we should just be thinking about?

Speaker 2: Well I'll just be selfish here and tell you about the bill I filed. So everyone claims that transportation infrastructure is a major priority, right? The President campaigned on it. The Hillary Clinton campaign on it. House Democrats, Senate Democrats, a lot of Republicans say that this is a priority. So here's what we put together. We put together a bill that eliminates the gas tax, eliminates the jet fuel excise tax. Most Americans pay those taxes because most Americans either take a flight somewhere every year or certainly drive gasoline powered vehicles. We tax carbon dioxide emissions instead of gasoline at the pump. By doing that, we drive down carbon dioxide emissions in excess of the Paris Agreement goals.
The $1 trillion in revenue that we create about 800 billion of that goes to new roads, bridges, public transit systems. Another 50 billion goes to coastal infrastructure, important for areas like South Florida. And then the rest of it goes to reduce any increases in power bills for lower income Americans.
A lot of people say, "Well, what happens if we tax carbon dioxide emissions, but the rest of the world doesn't? Then we're going to be at an economic disadvantage." We have a solution for that. It's called a border adjustment tax. If you're a foreign country and you don't tax emissions then you're going to have to pay a tax to import your products to our country.

Speaker 1: That's different than a VAT tax, right?

Speaker 2: It is different. And for American companies that are exporting to those countries, we will give them a credit so that our American products are not at a disadvantage as they try to go overseas. Within a year or two every other country in the world will tax carbon dioxide emissions because they don't want to face this barrier. This is a solution that invests in American infrastructure, something that everyone claims they want, reduces carbon dioxide emissions, I'd like to say save the planet for future generations-

Speaker 1: Sure.

Speaker 2: And create a clean energy jobs, which I think is just very exciting. This idea will survive this Congress. I have colleagues who will file it in the next Congress. And there are other ideas. But these are the types of big bold solutions we need for the future. And that's why I think we need to allow members to legislate because if they're allowed to legislate, these ideas will emerge, will become law.

Speaker 1: I take it back, you're completely unreasonable. Everybody can hear it. That's obvious. It's obvious now.

Speaker 2: Now you see why I lost.

Speaker 1: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. This guy actually thinks. We can't have that. All right, so three final questions for returning guests. I'll tell you what they are. I'll ask you them in order.

Speaker 2: Okay.

Speaker 1: What would you change about yourself? If anything. What would you change about anything else if you could? And we've talked about that. And then on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got to be on there. That's always the final question. But what would you change about yourself? If anything, might be something you're already working on.

Speaker 2: A change about myself. I'm gonna have a lot more time to think about.

Speaker 1: Right, exactly.

Speaker 2: Because when you're in Congress, you don't have much time to think. Here's what I really like to do going forward. So I've become a great consumer of news. I read a lot of articles, a lot of journals, but I haven't been reading books for a long time.

Speaker 1: Oh, wow.

Speaker 2: And I don't think that's healthy.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: You know, you should be reading things that are more than three or four pages long.

Speaker 1: Or on a screen.

Speaker 2: Or on a screen. And, and yes, I would like to have a physical book. So I want to read more.

Speaker 1: That's great.

Speaker 2: Long form reading.

Speaker 1: I think that's good advice for, again, let me try and think, everybody on Earth. All right. What would you change about anything else if you could? You know, either say, you know, hey, I already said it or maybe broaden it.

Speaker 2: No, look. And then sorry for going maybe a little too broad here. But I would say that I would like to change the direction of this country and I'll tell you why. What I'm seeing in this country, the demagoguery, the violence, the scapegoating. My dad would always tell me as a kid, and I was an only child so I only talked to my parents, I didn't have any siblings to talk to.

Speaker 1: It's like my girlfriend.

Speaker 2: And my dad would always tell me, "You know the difference between this country, you know, the Americans," because, you know, this is the immigrant mentality.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 2: "The Americans, you know, when they disagree, they do so in such a cordial way. You know, people may disagree, but they're not enemies. People don't hurt each other or kill each other because of their differences." He would always tell me that about our country, this country. And he would always talk about how it was different in Cuba, and really in all of Latin America, which is our point of reference. And I really see us moving toward those models.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Where it's not just that I disagree with you, it's that your trash and I need to eliminate you. And I need to eliminate your ideas. And it's not just that well, you know, the other party one now, you know, things might be a little different. I'm not going to see the kinds of policies I like. It's oh no, we're all going to hell now because this other party won.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 2: And we need to resist, resist is what French did when Hitler invaded and what Venezuelans are doing now under a tyrannical regime. A lot of Americans think that they have to resist when the other party comes to office.

Speaker 1: I want to take that word away from you because I think what you're saying is more powerful than describing it to one side. Because that word is being used on one side.

Speaker 2: No, no.

Speaker 1: Do you see what I'm saying.

Speaker 2: It is now, but a lot of Republicans, when Obama was in office-

Speaker 1: There we go, that's it.

Speaker 2: When they thought that they had to resist him.

Speaker 1: There we go.

Speaker 2: And they thought this was some communist or, you know, terrorists even. Seriously.

Speaker 1: Or a guy from Kenya.

Speaker 2: This is sad that this is how Americans are thinking about each other.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Speaker 2: And it sickens me.

Speaker 1: Totally.

Speaker 2: When I read some comments on social media, which I try to avoid.

Speaker 1: Please do.

Speaker 2: And even when I, you know, last year our colleagues were shot at by someone who disagreed with them. He was, you know, from the other party. Not saying that's the only reason he did it, but I'm sure that was a part of the motivation. We are decaying at a very rapid rate And it's going to take, I believe, the rising generations to turn the car around.

Speaker 1: Yeah, no. I'm with you.

Speaker 2: That's not my song, by the way. Turn the car around. That's not my song.

Speaker 1: I imagine Gloria Estefan would turn the beat around, right? That's something.

Speaker 2: That's the song, I'll just segue into your last question. The song that I've come to appreciate recently is by Macklemore.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Speaker 2: Good Old Days.

Speaker 1: All right. I don't know it. I know the name of that artist.

Speaker 2: Wonderful message.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: He tells us that we're living the good old days.

Speaker 1: Right now.

Speaker 2: But there's no, you know, a lot of people often think back. Don't think back, think now. Think now and make the most out of today.

Speaker 1: Absolutely. I'm with you. Yeah, that's why if you put on your slogan, again, or if you're resisting forward don't. No, no, no, no, no let's move forward, eyes front. Let's go.

Speaker 2: We will never become what we were. That's just impossible.

Speaker 1: Indeed.

Speaker 2: So let's just be the best we can today.

Speaker 1: I love it.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Carlos Curbelo. Congressman, thank you so much.

Speaker 2: Thank you my friend and keep in touch okay.

Speaker 1: I absolutely will. We'll check in with you online.

Speaker 2: All right.

Speaker 1: And there you have Congressman Carlos Curbelo, very much appreciate his time. Very much appreciate your time. Stay tuned.

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Cannabis Economy is a real-time history of legal cannabis. We chronicle how personal and industry histories have combined to provide our current reality.