The following transcript is from U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s Tuesday appearance on Colorado’s Morning News (KOA, 850am) with host April Zesbaugh. Certain quotes have been highlighted by the Colorado Times Recorder:

ZESBAUGH: First off, do you like the Senate’s current plan?

GARDNER: You know, I think this is a great opportunity for us to take a bill, that I like the direction it’s heading. I hope I’ll be able to support this. I think it’s something I will be able to support, once we finish the debate, markup on the floor. I’ll have some amendments that I hope are included. But the fact is, this is going to result in income level relie – uh, income tax relief at every level in America. This is an opportunity for us to grow the economy, and an opportunity for Coloradans to receive after-tax wage increases of over $3000, on average.

ZESBAUGH: There’s a new nonpartisan analysis that found the Senate plan would really benefit those who make one hundred grand or more a year, but would hurt the poor by raising health insurance premiums and adding [$]1.4 trillion to the deficit. Do those figures worry you, and is that something you want to tweak?

GARDNER: Well, I think what they’re talking about is they’re actually saying that if you remove the penalty, if you remove the fine under the Affordable Care Act — if you don’t buy insurance — they’re saying that you don’t get a tax credit and therefore you have a tax increase. Look, the mandatory requirement that people buy insurance — forced to buy a product they can’t afford under the Affordable Care Act — is one of the least popular aspects of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, 126,000 Coloradans had to pay a fine for not buying insurance as required under the Affordable Care Act. The reason they couldn’t do it is because they don’t earn enough money to pay for the outrageous premiums of the Affordable Care Act. Seventy-five percent of Coloradans who paid that fine earned less than $50,000 a year. And so what we’re doing is, we’re saying you have the freedom to buy what you want, not being forced to buy something you can’t afford. But with tax reform, we know that average Colorado families will see after-tax wage increase — for middle-class families — of over $3000. If you live in the western slope of Colorado, that’s going to be closer to $3500. This is a chance for us to grow wages. It’s a chance to see real wage growth that we haven’t seen in over a decade, and an opportunity to help middle-class families.

ZESBAUGH: So it sounds like whatever you do with taxes, it has to be in tandem — I guess — with healthcare reform.

GARDNER: Well, you know, again, think we do need healthcare reform, because in Colorado we’re seeing 30, 40% premium increases over the next several years. We’ve seen that in the past. People can’t afford it. So let’s fix that. But let’s also grow the economy. You know, if you live in Denver or Fort Collins you’ve seen incredible economic growth. If you live in the eastern plains or the western slope, you haven’t seen as much benefit from a growing economy as the front range has. This is a chance for us to make sure that every American at every income level has an opportunity to see economic growth, to cut taxes, to put more money in their pockets to spend the way they want to, and get it out the hands of Washington.

ZESBAUGH: Does the [Republican] Party have the votes to pass? You’ve already got, — what?– Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Steve Daines of Montana. They say they’d be ‘no’ votes, at least–you know–in its current form. You’ve got a dozen others saying they’re kind of on the fence. Is it dead in the water, at least [for] this week?

GARDNER: You know, I don’t think so. You know, I think it will still move forward this week. The fact is, we have a number of people who are passionate about making the bill better. And we ought to make it better. I hope it’s bipartisan. But the fact is, we received a letter from a number of Democrats saying that they’ll refuse to work with anybody on tax reform if it cuts taxes for businesses and pass-throughs and other areas. So, it’s unfortunate that we have this opportunity that we could really take right now to grow the economy, and we find so much opposition to it. But this is a chance for us to really make sure that all people in Colorado benefit from a plan that restores money to the people who earned it and takes it out of Washington.

ZESBAUGH: I know you want to focus on the issues. I know you folks are going to do that today and work to do your hardest at that. But do you worry with the President on Capitol Hill? The buzz is still going to be about the Pocahontas thing.

GARDNER: Well, look, yesterday’s statement is something that I wish wouldn’t have happened – shouldn’t have happened. But what we’re going to focus on today is tax reform, and making sure that the people of this country know that with our plan, if you’re a family that earns $73,000 a year, you’re going to see a 60% reduction in your tax rate from last year.

Listen to the entire segment, podcasted by KOA, by clicking on the link below: