The Washington Examiner interviewed Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, to discuss many current events, including the economic relief package being negotiated, President Trump’s response to the virus, criticism from Democrats, and more.
In the Senate, he serves on the Aging Committee, Agriculture Committee, Budget Committee, Environment and Public Works Committee, and the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
Before becoming a senator in 2018, Braun was the founder and CEO of Meyer Distributing, an auto parts distribution company he built in his hometown of Jasper. He also served in the Indiana House of Representatives.
Braun, 66, studied economics at Wabash College and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He married his high school sweetheart, Maureen Braun, who also owns her own business. They have four grown children.
Washington Examiner: What’s most important to you of all the economic relief issues we have: unemployment, food stamps, small business relief, and of course healthcare costs?
Braun: Very simply, three things: Those that are at the lowest end of the pay scale and have lost their job due to government approach to COVID, that’s No. 1. Then, the smallest of businesses that have been impacted. And three, I’m going to be for anybody that was just left out through some type of error and/or omission — or companies that might have fallen through the cracks. But all that would all be under a trillion dollars. I’m fairly certain.
Washington Examiner: How do you think the Democrats would respond to the virus if they were completely in charge?
Braun: I think they would probably start doing some of the things Republicans have been talking about. Probably not 100% focused on kind of the disease itself at the expense of the economic patient because I think at that point, you know, they would own the virus response. I think there would be a different way to do it because the smartest way to do it is to do both things at once. Learn everything we’ve learned about the disease. Take it seriously. Don’t shut the economy down in a blanket, one-size-fits-all approach. I think where that’s been done, you’ll see the economies are going to have a lot more trouble recovering. Of course, their point of view is until you deal with the virus, you don’t have a chance to get the economy back on its feet. I think they’re saying that simply because it benefits them politically for the next 90 days.
Washington Examiner: Is there anything that you would do differently from President Trump regarding the virus response, particularly when it comes to safety protocols, protections, and testing?
Braun: Of course the Dems aren’t going to say it, but I know it as a CEO: You can’t produce stuff out of thin air. I was amazed that PPE, ventilators, just basic materials, got solved much more quickly than it normally would. And when it came to other things like testing, I just got an email from Roy Blunt and Lamar Alexander that soon, before the end of the year, we’re going to have tests that are quick and accurate that go for between a buck and five bucks apiece. I think all of that has moved at a speed … quicker than what it would have been under a more bureaucratic approach. So I think Trump’s done a decent job at it. When you focus only on the number of cases, which are probably 10 to 20 times as many, then of course it’s going to sound bad.
Washington Examiner: One just tries to compare our response to the virus with other countries, and we seem to have had a very different response and set of outcomes than other countries. That’s what causes one to reflect on what could be done better. We seem to be the worst of the lot, in terms of cases and deaths, at least at the moment.
Braun: I think that when it comes to the final determination on whose economy has been hurt the worst, we won’t know that until more years pass to see how it actually pans out. And to be honest, it’s too early to tell.
Washington Examiner: Have there been any unnoticed victories from the past few weeks that you think haven’t gotten the attention but should?
Braun: One thing is that back in March, when [Anthony] Fauci and [Deborah] Birx were talking about what a good number would be in terms of keeping a lid on the virus. I think they’re on record saying around 150,000 fatalities by Aug. 1. So according to their metrics, we have essentially gone down the path of the best possible scenario when you measure it as you should — by keeping a lid on fatalities. … They are on record saying that. So that’s kind of a disconnect to me. I’m surprised. But generally, you’re not going to hear that from the mainstream media. I’m surprised more haven’t pointed that out.