Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and C.J. Bundy became “brothers” more than 45 years ago.
Coats and Bundy were paired up for a mentorship through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Now, the same organization that Coats said benefited him is facing the possible elimination of federal funding.
Coats met with local business leaders at Chapman’s restaurant as part of a Federal Focus event presented by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, where he discussed topics including job growth and health care and answered questions from attendees.
He said the federal government is currently experiencing a surplus, which is a better problem to have than a deficit.
“We are in a situation where our budget is being ever squeezed through a number of factors,” Coats said. “One of the challenges we have is to make our government at the federal level more effective.”
Coats said there is not a future to base decisions on because there are trillions of dollars sitting on the sideline.
“Any entity that is operating on a $3.7 trillion budget could use a haircut,” Coats said.
Coats said one of the ways he’s trying to make it more effective is by trying to speak to the president every day from the Senate floor.
“This sequester needs to be replaced by a long-term plan to deal with our deficit problem, and in that plan we ought to be able to give the agencies the discretion to eliminate the essential and nonessential,” Coats said.
Tom Saccone, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana, asked Coats to comment on the future of federal funding, because his organization faces losing 15 to 20 percent of it’s operating revenue with the elimination of a grant.
“It’s OK to qualify for the possible federal support that’s available, but we shouldn’t let the organization become dependent on it,” Coats said.
Coats joined forces on a plan that has been embedded through businesses and other entities.
“It gets our industries and companies in line with role in terms of tax rates,” Coats said. “It’s one that has bipartisan support, because comprehensive tax reform has to be a part of this.”
Coats also addressed the current state of health care.
“What we see is a lot of extensive spending on procedures and tests that are not
necessary,” Coats said.
He said he believes they need to open the health care plan back up.
“There’s a lot of innovation and change going on in health care right now. We need to look at the practices that are working right now and saving money,” he said.
Coats said if he had a single message to the president, it’s that he’s concerned about the future.
“We told them, Mr. President, we’ll join you,” Coats said. “We know there are tough decisions here, but you have to take the lead. Everyone has come up short, because we haven’t had the person at the top. You.”