During Congressman John Delaney’s 2020 Presidential run, he became known for his direct answers shaping the public discussion. He joined me in studio, and our discussion ranges from new fast-track laws for innovators in healthcare, why he forgiving everyone’s college debt isn’t feasable, and why real concrete ideas are so scary to the Democrat party.
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Transcript of John Delaney Interview on The Justin Brady Show
Justin Brady: Every Saturday, from 4-6pm CT it’s the Justin Brady show. Well, I told you this was going to happen and we actually got him, Congressman John Delaney, who is running for president. I’m sure you’ve heard his name. He’s in the WHO Radio studio. Congressman, thank you very much for coming in here and giving me and the WHO Radio listeners some time.
John Delaney: It’s great to be here.
Justin Brady: I really appreciate you making time and one of the things I’ve really appreciated about you a lot is, well, I’ll start with something that’s frustrating. I hear a lot of things on the debate stage. I hear a lot of things being thrown around and then you speak up. It’s stuff that I think should be common sense or should make sense to everybody, but it goes over a lot of people’s heads. So I’m just like, okay, this guy is … He’s pragmatic. He thinks before he talks, why is this so hard for people to understand?
Justin Brady: Every time Warren or Sanders are speaking to a new group, even within the last 24 hours, it usually ends with them promising to do more, which is translated through a few billion dollars one way or another.
John Delaney: Or trillion.
Justin Brady: Or trillion dollars, exactly.
John Delaney: Billion’s old-fashioned. We’re talking trillion.
Justin Brady: That’s true. Billion’s for losers.
John Delaney: Yeah. We’re talking trillion.
Justin Brady: So I mean they’re saying yes to literally every request. People should know this isn’t even possible, but it kind of alludes people. I mean even Warren Buffett has said, “I say no way more times than I say yes.” So does the Democrat party have a yes problem?
John Delaney: I think we pander too much. I think most of the candidates who are running for president are running on either impossible promises or fairy tale economics. Embedded in that is this notion that you just say, “Yes, we’re going to spend a lot of money from the federal government to solve that problem.” And in a lot of these problems, it’s actually not money. Some of the amounts of monies they’re promising are just completely unrealistic and it doesn’t make any sense. So yeah, I think it’s a problem right now because we’re not going to beat Donald Trump. We’re certainly not going to be able to govern based on these platforms.
Justin Brady: Right. I mean you say in a lot of cases it’s not money. It’s not a money thing, which I 100% agree with. What are some examples of where you would say no? Or what are things you can’t do? Would you say no to reparations, I mean, free college? Of course, Andrew Yang wants to give everyone $1000 a month. Would you be the, I guess, be the parent and put your foot down and say, “No, we can’t say yes to everything?” What are some of those-
John Delaney: Universal basic income. “Give me $1000 a month.” That would double the federal budget, literally double it. There’s actually no evidence ever that technology displaces more jobs than it creates. It actually always creates more jobs. Now, it is true that it doesn’t create jobs where they’ve been displaced and that people who get the new jobs that get created by technology are not the same people who have lost their jobs. So to me, there’s a role for government to smooth that out and to make sure people have the skills for the new jobs. I also think we have to be creative. A third of the country right now are caregivers. That’s going to be 50% by 2040. If I were to take care of your mom and you were to take care of my mom, in other words, if we were to switch-
Justin Brady: That sounds like a sitcom, by the way.
John Delaney: Right. I’d have to pay you. You’d have to pay me.
Justin Brady: Right. Absolutely.
John Delaney: So the point there is caregiving adds huge value to society. And right now the overwhelming majority of it is compensated, so I’m for coming up with creative schemes, to use the British word, to create compensation for people who do things in society that add value that are currently not paid for, either through tax incentives or other things. But this notion of just paying people, everyone, $1000 a month, A, there’s no evidence that that is policy that we need at all. Secondly, there’s just, I mean we’d literally have to double the tax revenues to pay for it.
Justin Brady: Right. No, absolutely. Another thing, and you’ve talked about this a little bit, is free community college. Would you be willing to say no to that or can we simply roll that into high schools and make high schools better?
John Delaney: Well, this is the thing, I think right now public education is K through 12. I actually think it should be pre-K through 14. I think every kid should start a pre-K. It’s actually a really good investment. Kids who get pre-K need special resources much less than other kids, and special resources costs two to three times more per child. So if you actually give people pre-K, you end up saving money in the public education system because kids just do better. I also think kids need something after high school, either career and technical training or community college. I’d like to get to the point where those things are part of public education, so that is expanding free education. There’s no question, because if we go to pre-K through 14 as the new K through 12, we’ve expanded public education. I think that’s needed.
John Delaney: But I don’t think free four-year college is what we should be doing. First of all, it creates incentives for everyone to go to college, which isn’t true, which shouldn’t happen. Secondly, I think we got a problem with colleges in this country. Too many people are graduating from college with a degree and a lot of debt and they can’t get a job. That’s a huge problem. So we got to really rethink college. I just think we can’t afford it. It’s like these people who are saying we should write off all the student loans. I mean if we had more money to invest in public education, which I hope to have, I’d want to give some for early childhood. I’d want to give some to expand pre-K. I’d want to help out teachers. I’d want more technology in the classroom. I’d like to make community college and career technical training more affordable, and I’d like to do things to provide some targeted relief in the student debt crisis.
John Delaney: But this notion of taking trillions of dollars and just writing off everyone’s student loans, including wealthy kids, I mean it’s just a crazy idea. Imagine if you just paid off your student loans, you’d feel like a fool.
Justin Brady: Right.
John Delaney: A fool. “Man, aren’t I stupid?”
Justin Brady: My wife has paid off hers.
John Delaney: “Yeah, aren’t I dumb? I actually did what I was supposed to do.”
Justin Brady: Right. Yeah, we-
John Delaney: Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a student debt crisis. We do. We ought to let student debt be discharged in bankruptcy. Right now it’s the only debt-
Justin Brady: True.
John Delaney: … the only debt that’s not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Justin Brady: I think a lot of people don’t know that.
John Delaney: That’s unfair. That’s totally unfair. The point of bankruptcy is to give people a clean start, and that should apply to everyone no matter what their debt is. So we should do that. I think we should lower the rates. I think we should have more repayment programs tied to people’s income, so you pay a percentage of your income. If you go work for Google, you pay the loans off fast. If you do community service, takes a long time. So I’m in favor of lots of reforms to make student debt more affordable, but not writing them all off.
Justin Brady: I am hearing then, like being the parent, you are saying no to free four-year education for everyone. You are saying no to $1000 a month for everyone. You are staying saying no to, “I’m not going to pay off all your student loans. Tighten the belt and make it work.” I do agree with you though. I don’t like the whole idea of, “I built up all these student loans, now someone else owes me to pay that off.” I think that’s stupid. But I do agree with you that it should be a level playing field. If a CEO can file bankruptcy and get out of the debt he holds, why shouldn’t a student have those same rights? I do agree there.
John Delaney: Well, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, who made all the opioids and is getting sued, as they should, and I hope it puts them under because I think they did it. State governments and families are suing them. There’s rumors that they’re going to file for bankruptcy to get this debt discharged. So if Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of opioids, can file for bankruptcy to get rid of their debts and they were part of a problem that ended up in 70,000 Americans dying a year, then I think a student ought to be able to discharge their student loans.
Justin Brady: Totally agree. One of the things that I’m really passionate about is life, and I sent you guys a Gallup poll. 81% of Americans think abortion should be illegal in the final three months of pregnancy. So I’m not going to have an argument of where life starts and ends. That’s a huge argument. But your opponents, at least from what I’ve heard them say, seem to indicate they want to expand abortion rights even more. I mean do you agree with your opponents, or do you agree with the American people, that 81%?
John Delaney: Again, I didn’t look at the polling. I apologize.
Justin Brady: No, that’s fine.
John Delaney: I support Roe v. Wade as the law of the land and what Roe v. Wade does is protect a woman’s reproductive freedom, which I fully support. But it does allow states to put limits on that late in the pregnancy unless the mother’s health is at risk. And that’s where I think most Americans are on this issue, and that’s where I am.
Justin Brady: So, let’s say exceptions roll into that then. If the life of the mother and a new bill comes around, and the life of the mothers is at risk, right then and their, the mother’s life takes priority.
John Delaney: That’s generally the law in most places.
Justin Brady: I think that was the law before Roe v. Wade. I could be wrong on that.
John Delaney: I don’t know either, Roe v Wade was a long time ago.
Justin Brady: So, with that in place then, would you be willing to sign, saying the final three months of abortion—that’s illegal. And the reason I ask this is because I feel like you unlike anybody on that stage right now, has the rare ability to pull a lot of never-Trump votes, a lot of Republicans, a lot of independents, and I think this is an issue, at least for me, being an independent—I do not like the Republican party, I do not like the Democrat party. This is an issue that’s really near and dear to my heart.
John Delaney: Well, again, the framework for Roe v. Wade, which effectively defines what states can and cannot do, that’s really what Roe v. Wade does, is what I support. I would like Roe v. Wade to be the law of the land and not just a court decision, and then states have to follow it and what states decide to do is their decision. Most states I believe, if not all the states, effectively prohibit it later in the term unless the mother’s health is at risk and that’s what I support.
Justin Brady: So I’m hearing no change right now from Congressman Delaney.
John Delaney: No. [affirmative] This is a very, very, very difficult issue for the American people.
Justin Brady: I agree. Totally agree.
John Delaney: And it is not going to go away.
Justin Brady: I agree.
John Delaney: I think Roe v. Wade is supported by broadly the American people. It’s what I support as an elected official. I believe in the separation of church and state. I’m an active and practicing Catholic. The decision that my wife and I would make in our own personal lives is different than the decisions I want to dictate to the American people. As an elected official, I want to support the will of the American people, and the will of the American people is for women’s reproductive freedom pursuant to Roe v. Wade, which I support.
Justin Brady: I want to move on from this—I don’t want to keep talking about it forever, but we do have the 81% though that is the will of the American people.
John Delaney: And then through the state legislative process, they will basically work in their states to decide what they want. Because what Roe v. Wade basically says is states have discretion to a point. They don’t have unlimited discretion. But here’s an example. Even on this incredibly divisive issue, as someone who wants to try to bring the country together and focus on things we agree with each other on, I think people across the spectrum on this issue can agree we should have a lot more family planning. There’s an example even on this divisive issue where I think we can work together to create maybe a world where these decisions have to be made much less often.
Justin Brady: I want to move on to healthcare as well. I know this is something you know a lot about. A lot of my clients are in med tech and healthcare, well, a few of them are. One of the things, startups solve problems. A lot of startups solve problems. Yet small companies are basically prevented from entering healthcare due to crushing regulations. I mean the cost of filing for the FDA, I’m sure you’re aware of this, can be up to a few million dollars just to file stuff through the FDA. So healthcare, due to our own laws, can’t really be disrupted. It’s been disrupt-proof. Would you be willing to overhaul the FDA or lower those barriers to innovation for startups?
John Delaney: Yeah, but listen, again, like all these things, you’re balancing things, right?
Justin Brady: Right.
John Delaney: The point of a lot of these regulations is consumer safety.
Justin Brady: Of course.
John Delaney: And so I’m always in favor of streamlining red tape and eliminating duplicative regulations which, as you properly point out, don’t hurt big companies because they hire big teams of people to deal with it. They hurt small companies. They hurt the innovators. So I’m definitely in favor of that. But there is a valid role to protect consumers and ensure the drugs that come to market are safe.
Justin Brady: Right. Well, how about noninvasive then? Would there be, under President Delaney, would there be a fast track clearance program that’s cheaper and as long as it’s noninvasive, it’s like a three-month process? You don’t need to commit to a specific day, but would this be something you’d consider?
John Delaney: I always would consider anything that brings drugs to market as fast as possible.
Justin Brady: Well, noninvasive though, not drugs, noninvasive. Sorry. I should have been more clear.
John Delaney: Well, what you mean by noninvasive?
Justin Brady: For example, like wearables these days. According to industry professionals, even wearables, and I don’t know which ones-
John Delaney: Well, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Justin Brady: Well, even wearables are getting to the point where they’re exceeding the quality and accuracy of even clinical tools, and clinical tools cost tens of thousands of dollars. So would you be willing to fast-track companies making monitors or stuff like that, noninvasive, non-drug? It can’t hurt a person.
John Delaney: Absolutely. Now, you’ve got to realize in all this stuff, there is a role for some protection. There was a very hot company called Theranos that had a lot of innovative “technology” theoretically. It appears like it was all made up. So you got to make sure that stuff… if people are going to rely on it instead of doing tests that we know work, you got to make sure the tests work.
Justin Brady: Right.
John Delaney: Otherwise, you don’t want them not to have a colonoscopy when it’s recommended because they have some wearable that says they’re fine—unless you know that wearable works. I mean all of us would prefer that, let’s face it.
Justin Brady: I’m hearing a new campaign slogan!
John Delaney: Yeah, yeah.
Justin Brady: Can you fit Delaney and colonoscopies somewhere? No?
John Delaney: My team is turning different shades right now…
Justin Brady: That’s so funny…… So, Theranos, I believe they were FDA-approved.
John Delaney: I’m sure they were.
Justin Brady: Bigger companies, even with those giant budgets, as we’ve seen in the past, they’ll push out that drug. It’ll hurt a lot of people, and then, “I’m sorry. But we have all these billions of dollars to fight it now.”
Justin Brady: So back into the medical space a little bit. One of the hot topics today is marijuana. And of course, we’ll make this one really quick because I want to give you time as well. But Governor Reynolds even, in our own state, has constantly blocked even medical expansion for marijuana. Would this be something you would federally across-the-board say, “Marijuana is now legal?”
John Delaney: This is what I would do. Right now marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government, which means if Iowa were to vote to make marijuana completely legal for recreational purposes, let’s go all the way to recreational marijuana, then what would happen is those companies would always be at risk of being in violation of federal law and they wouldn’t be able to do business with the federal bank.
Justin Brady: Right. Of course.
John Delaney: I don’t believe that the federal government should say that every state has to have full legal marijuana. I think what the federal government should do is allow states to make their own decision and get out of the way. I would remove marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, and then whatever the states do, they do. So if some state doesn’t want to have any recreational marijuana, that’s their decision. I’m not mandating it as president, but if Iowa decides to have recreational marijuana, then the federal government’s not getting in the way.
Justin Brady: Congressman Delaney, I appreciate you being here. I would like to give you some time just to talk to Iowans. Is that okay? Can you stick around?
John Delaney: Sure.
Justin Brady: Awesome. We will have more with Congressman Delaney when we come back on the Justin Brady Show.
Justin Brady: It is the Justin Brady Show. We are still joined by Congress John Delaney who is running for president against Donald Trump. Congressman, thank you so much for being here. I wanted to give you just a few minutes to talk to Iowans.
John Delaney: Great. Thank you, Justin. Thank you for having me. I want Iowans to know that I’m the candidate that’s got real solutions to the issues we’re facing because that’s what we need. I think the most fundamental responsibility of elected officials is to leave the world better than we found it, and we’re not doing that right now. The reason we’re not doing that is because we spend all of our time fighting, which is why I don’t think what Iowans need or what the American people need is more partisanship, more gridlock, or more ideology. We need our elected officials to roll up their sleeves and get real things done that matter to them and their families. We should be building infrastructure, and I believe I can get a big bipartisan infrastructure bill passed. We should be fixing our healthcare system. We should be lowering drug prices.
John Delaney: We should be doing things to be making sure jobs are getting created in every community, including the small towns in Iowa that I’ve traveled through as part of being to all 99 counties where I see the population shrinking and there being no jobs for young people. We got to create tax incentives to get people to invest. We ought to build infrastructure to connect these communities to the world. We need to create incentives for government contracts to locate there. But for all of these issues, I believe there’s a real solution, not a bunch of impossible promises, not fairy-tale economics, solutions that matter that can get done.
John Delaney: As president, I’m committed to be the person in my first 100 days to champion five or six big ideas. Each one of them will be based on existing bipartisan bills in the Congress because I want to show the American people that John Delaney as president is about getting things done and about getting America working again and solving problems and dialing down the noise. That’s why I’m calling for national service, because I think if more people serve their country, I think it would change how we think about our responsibility to each other and our country.
John Delaney: So if you want to learn more about me, please go to johndelaney.com and you’ll see where I stand on all these issues. But what I really want Iowans to know is that this is not about me. I’m doing this for the right reason. I just don’t want to be the president, to be the president. I want to do the job.
Justin Brady: Thank you so much, Congressman John Delaney. Everybody, you’re listening to the Justin Brady Show.
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More About Congressman John Delaney
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