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(Photo Credit: The Hammer and Nigel Show)

Republican Senator Mike Braun is well aware of Americans’ sense of exasperation with the ongoing dysfunction of Washington politics. His own frustration with the “business as usual” bureaucracy of the Federal government and a sense of duty to his fellow citizens ultimately helped propel him to victory following a hard-fought campaign for the United States Senate in 2018.

Braun went to Washington with his eyes wide open; however, the Senator told WIBC’s Hammer and Nigel Tuesday that he’s been surprised by how deep the level of dysfunction and attitude of complacency runs in D.C.

“Everyone there that’s been [in Washington] for a long time doesn’t think that anything is wrong, and [they’ve] become nestled into a system that frustrates most Americans [and] most Hoosiers when they’d just like to see a few things done well,” said Braun. 

Senator Braun said the current attitude in Washington is emblematic of how polarized we are as a country.

“One side wants even more government when we don’t pay for 20{fe841f951c287eb10d706fa905eee676b260b6a43f6c3edeff7b90385a44c045} of what we use currently,” explained Braun, “and we’ve someone become comfortable with borrowing that from our kids and grandkids.”

The Senator likened the combative relationship between Republicans and Democrats on issues of policy to the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Senator Braun also explained the challenge of attempting to achieve a balanced budget on the Federal level.

“It was 20 years ago that we did a budget where a resolution came out of the House and the Senate that we’ve appropriated to where when you do a budget, you stick to it,” Braun explained. “We’ve done things like sequestrations (taking legal possession of assets until a debt has been paid or other claims have been met), caps, [and] immediately in the year after, [Washington lawmakers] start finding ways to maneuver around it.”

He continued: “When it comes to budgeting, it’s by the seat of our pants. Conservatives roll over to Democrats on domestic spending, and now [Democrats] will do the same thing for [Conservatives] on defense.”

Speaking on the matter of gun reform legislation, Senator Braun said conservatives can no longer dismiss the issue as not being worthy of discussion.

Generally, that’s been the pattern [on major issues for Conservatives], and then we wind up with something we don’t like because we avoid serious discussion,” said Braun. 

The Senator affirmed his strong support of the Second Amendment, implying that it was, therefore, incumbent upon Conservatives to determine how to apply common sense to legislative reform that preserves Americans’ right to own a firearm and helps to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

“If we do nothing,” warned Braun, “then we’ll wind up with the extreme stuff that so often happens [when you refuse to discuss the issue].”

Senator Braun supports Red Flag laws and favors legislation similar to Indiana’s Jake Laird Law.

With regard to America’s opioid crisis and a “broken” healthcare market, Braun warned against “thick-headed” drugmakers who resist making changes at the risk broader government intervention.

Braun indicated that he found an unlikely partner on the opposite side of the political aisle with whom he aligns on a comprehensive plan to combat opioid abuse.

“Senator [Ed] Markey (D-MA) who is one of the most liberal Senators in the Senate brought something that to me was common sense,” explained Braun. “And on a vial, you have simple that [the drug] could be addictive and fatal, and that the people who prescribe it have a minimum amount of training so that they know that you can become addicted after three weeks.”

Senator Braun said he was appalled when he learned that opioid distributors knew for several years that places in Kentucky and West Virginia were selling 20{fe841f951c287eb10d706fa905eee676b260b6a43f6c3edeff7b90385a44c045} of the opioids being prescribed in those states. According to Braun, it’s clear that several manufacturers consciously put profit ahead of the public’s welfare.

Continuing on the issue of healthcare, Senator Braun said that while he is a staunch fiscal Conservative, resistance to government intervention can’t extend to cases where the free market isn’t functioning freely. Braun said that with a few rare exceptions, the health care market lacks transparency in pricing, adding that the industry has abused what he described as a near-monopoly.

The Senator warned that resistance to modest government regulation could ultimately lead to what Conservatives and pharmaceutical companies would view as a far worse outcome: the Medicare-for-all plan advocated by Democrats such as Senator Bernie Sanders.

Click the link below to hear Hammer and Nigel’s full interview with Senator Braun.