Sen. Mike Braun gave the audience at Monday’s Federal Focus luncheon talk presented by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce his view of what’s needed in Washington, D.C., to keep the United States moving in a positive direction.

Braun, whose current term in the Senate ends in January 2025, is one of six candidates who have announced they will run for the Indiana governor post in 2024.

Sen. Mike Braun speaks at the Federal Focus luncheon hosted by the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce on Monday at the Switchyard Park Pavilion.

Current problems faced by Congress, he said, include health care, the economy, foreign affairs and the U.S. border, which the senator said could be the biggest issue in 2024. But Braun spent most of his time talking about the economy and the need for fiscal responsibility.

The way to get “things done” is to find practical middle ground, Braun said, something he learned while serving on a school board in his hometown of Jasper. Braun said he’s continued working toward the middle ground in Congress, where he serves the Senate committees on agriculture, nutrition and forestry; budget; and health, education, labor and pensions.

A theme throughout his talk was the need for the United States, especially Congress, to quit burdening future generations with rising federal deficits and debt, which was more than $33 trillion, according to FiscalData, an official website of the U.S. government. What’s at stake, Braun said, is a continuing out-of-control deficit that will affect all aspects of Americans’ lives, especially Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Action from Indiana and other states that use fiscal best practices is needed to help shape a better future for the nation, he said.

John Fernandez, senior vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships with The Mill, questions Sen. Mike Braun on Monday during the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s Federal Focus event.

Braun said the U.S. is currently “at the cusp of opportunity,” as it deals with multiple issues and a divided Congress. Braun said federal officials need to do what business people in the Chamber understand: take care of customers (or citizens). The way to do that is to live within your means, he said, adding, “Currently there is no check valve on that.”

During a question and answer session moderated by John Fernandez, a former Bloomington mayor and current senior vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships with The Mill, Braun again spoke mostly about the federal debt.

“For every dollar that we spend, we borrow 33 cents of it,” he said, when asked about appropriate goals for the federal government. The federal government should begin spending less each year, he said, but officials need the political will to do so.

Braun said term limits for federal offices and a balanced budget are required to move the U.S. in a positive direction. The government needs to get its “super structure” in shape before it can truly help Americans financially, he said.

Then the U.S. needs to find the key ingredients in order to grow and prosper, Braun said, starting on “Main Street” and looking at how local entrepreneurs prosper when they aren’t over regulated.

When asked what the role of the United States is in democracy around the world, Braun said it’s “ultra important” that the U.S. is involved with Russia, China, Ukraine and Gaza.

“We need to be involved but we cannot pay all the bills,” he said, adding that keeping up with technology of other nations is also necessary.

“We’re on the cusp (of better times). I am optimistic about the future,” he said.