Braun: Depend on each other, not government


U.S. Senate Photographic Studio, Rosa Pineda

FERDINAND — U.S. Sen. Mike Braun believes the issues that will ultimately bring Democrats and Republicans together are two that both sides are feuding about.

“I think it’s going to happen on health care and budget,” Braun, a Jasper native, told more than 400 people at Dubois Strong’s annual lunch meeting Thursday. “We’re going to endure a couple of calamities, but I think that’s where we’re going to have to get serious.”

Braun was the featured speaker at the luncheon, which also included an update on the Mid-States Corridor project by Mark Schroeder, president of the Mid-States Corridor Regional Development Authority, and a wrap-up on Dubois Strong activities by Ed Cole, president of Dubois Strong.

Braun talked about his time at the country’s capital, and answered questions on different topics, including North Korea, the trade policy, the minimum wage, Medicare and Social Security.

A main point he reiterated to the crowd: “Quit looking to the federal government to solve your problems.”

“Any institution that sports an $850 billion deficit on a $4.3 trillion budget, and is the biggest business in the world,” he said, “don’t look to them to do things like infrastructure. Look to yourself. Be like Indiana, that operates within its means, does some big projects like putting long-term road financing out there.”

After the luncheon at the Ferdinand Community Center, Braun said that while projects like the Mid-States Corridor could get part of the funding the Federal Highway Administration already sends to Indiana, “don’t look for any new funding to come” to the state.

He was also asked after the meeting for his opinion on releasing the entire Mueller report. He said there is a limit on what parts can and can’t be released. But he believes all that can be released should be.

“The more you can see, the better,” he said. “Just like the more you can see when you are trying to buy health care services, the better. Transparency is always the best way to go.”

But he knows the battle involving the report will not stop with the release of the report. “My gut tells me that, regardless of what’s there, this is not going to be completely litigated until November of 2020,” he said.

Braun said during the luncheon he is optimistic about the country’s future, and is always willing to share his perspectives on the happenings in Washington. He mentioned CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett asked Braun to do an unedited, 45-minute interview on his podcast, which Braun accepted. He was asked to pick a restaurant to meet for the interview. Usually, an expensive restaurant is picked.

“I said, ‘I’d like to do it at McDonald’s,’” Braun said. “We did it at one of the nicest McDonald’s I’ve ever been in. And what was neat was that [the McDonald’s owner] was an entrepreneur that started with one franchise, and built it up to 19. It was worth the price of admission to do that.”

The future of the country lies with the people, he said, not government.

“I have great optimism that the great salvation of this country is going to be through all of you here,” he said, “cities, towns and states.”

Cole spoke about Dubois Strong’s activities for the past year, including the Facebook advertising campaign to encourage users to click through to local employers’ jobs postings. That effort generated more than 10 million ad views and more than 43,000 clicks. That effort has driven more than 1,000 people to look at job listings on the 15 manufacturing companies that partnered with Dubois Strong in the campaign.

“We want to be able to learn from what we’ve done the last two years and incorporate that into our 2019 campaign,” Cole said.

Dubois Strong is using a Regional Opportunities planning grant to determine a countywide need. “What we’re trying to do is look at something that would positively affect the quality of place and workforce attraction ability of the entire county,” Cole said. “We’re talking to lots of people about that, and doing some focus groups to determine what is best for us.”

Cole mentioned some of the many projects local communities are working on — River Centre development and the Parklands in Jasper, Market Street Park and the railroad overpass in Huntingburg, the Old Town Lake trail and the veterans memorial in Ferdinand — as well as various housing projects going on throughout the county.

“More than ever, we are competing for workforce talent across southern Indiana and Indiana as a whole, and I would even say the nation,” he said. “People want quality of work and quality of place in the same location.”

Other Dubois Strong activities from the past year Cole mentioned were:

• Partnering with Radius Indiana on a digital wage and benefits survey with 76 employers in 15 southern Indiana counties.

• The designation of the 72-acre Mobel property in Ferdinand as an Indiana Site Certified for development.

• The annual tour for local eighth-graders of manufacturing companies in October.

• The workforce attention and attraction forum held in September.

• The agriculture economic summit held in November.

More on