U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Jasper, said “we are making the right move” to withdraw American troops in parts of the Middle East.
In a shift of U.S. military policy, the Trump administration yesterday announced a full troop withdraw from northern Syria, possibly allowing a military operation by Turkey again Kurdish forces, which had battled to uproot ISIS.
Turkey has sought to end American support of Kurdish fighters, considering them a terrorist insurgency. However, Kurdish fighters have been a reliable U.S. partner in battling the Islamic State in northern Syria.
“I am going to be in the camp that I think we need to be less engaged to the extent than we have been in the past,” Braun said in a stop Monday in Terre Haute at the Tribune-Star.
“When President Trump said, ‘Hey, our allies shoulder more of the burden,’ help pay for stuff, help be responsible. It doesn’t mean we don’t do things smartly and we don’t lead. I think we can do both of them,” Braun said.
“On one side of the aisle almost in its entirety, and a good part of the Republican side, doesn’t put into perspective how much things cost. I don’t think we can be the policeman of the world. We should lead, but we should do it in a way that is sustainable,” the senator said.
“What will do us in, in terms of our long term leadership, is if we keep running trillion dollar deficits, which are soon to get up to 1.5 trillion dollars in five to six years. That will weaken us to where the federal government will not be able to maintain national defense, fix infrastructure across the nation and shore up Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Braun said.
“I think we have got engaged in a way that was busting the budget,” Braun said of the Middle East. “The Obama administration then took the defense budget down in a frightening way — too low. That has been put back to where it was before, and now I think the focus of the federal government, when it comes to defense and domestic spending, is how do we do what all other local school boards do, local governments, state governments and businesses — live within your means. Don’t throw all this responsibility financially on our kids and grandkids. I think we are making the right move,” he said of withdrawing U.S. troops.
Ukraine, China and Biden
Braun was asked his thoughts on Trump asking the Ukrainian and Chinese governments to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, who is a Democrat candidate for president.
“I look at the context of anything,” he said. “President Trump got elected in November 2016 because he was a different kind of individual. We all knew with that package, you are going to have somebody that isn’t going to tiptoe around like a typical politician, and thank goodness, because I don’t think things were working in a way that would work in the long run,” Braun said.
“Part of his style, and we have seen it since he has been there, is he will push the envelope. I think the key thing, in my opinion, is since November 2016, when you look at the subtext, there has been a calculated effort to disrupt the disruptor,” Braun said.
“When you look at the merits of the case, I think it has probably brought as much attention to Joe Biden and what he and his son were involved in, and what President Trump mentioned where there is no quid pro quo” for Ukraine to get U.S. aid in exchange for looking into Biden, he said.
Braun said if the House votes on impeachment and it moves to the Senate, “it will be heard quickly in the Senate and I think if there is nothing further to what we have seen, especially with some details” involving whistleblowers “to maybe set the stage for this … this backfires on the people who are so eager to run this through the gauntlet.”
The Indiana senator discussed other issues, including the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement.
Braun said while there may be some details on environment and labor “that need to be ironed out, everybody wants that agreement,” even a large number of Democrats, Braun said.
“We have had the strongest economic growth in the last 21/2 years that I have seen,” Braun said, who is founder and CEO of Meyer Distributing and owner of Meyer Logistics. He stepped down as CEO when elected to the U.S. Senate.
“All of that starts to get into jeopardy a little bit, when focusing on other things. The USMCA needs to be brought to the House floor and voted on immediately,” he said. “It will pass the Senate in flying colors, with several Democrats voting for it.”
On health care, Braun supports a proposal that would allow drugs already approved by other developed countries to be fast-tracked for approval in the U.S.
“Health care cost half as much in other countries than it does here,” Braun said. “In any other industry, you are able to trade. We don’t have the market cornered, most drugs we use are generics.” He said the “pharmaceutical industry needs to embrace fast tracking competition” to make it easier for brand names to become generic.
“The health care industry is trying to preserve the past and status quo, because they made a fortune at it,” he said.
He said industry should lead reform on health care, adding health care spending is about 20 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
“You should not need 80 senators to have ideas on how to make your business competitive, transparent and efficient,” he said. “Health care has evolved in a way where it is sad. I blame health insurance companies, hospitals, big pharma and providers to some extent” for supporting legislation that restricts competition.
Braun next goes to central and northern Indiana during the rest of this week, then to his hometown of Jasper on Friday.