Both senators from Indiana, Mike Braun and Todd Young, spent about a half hour answering questions during the monthly ONE VOICE Martindale-Brightwood meeting April 14.
Braun and Young, both Republicans, took questions over Zoom on topics ranging from the minimum wage to gentrification to the 2020 election and former President Donald Trump.
Both senators said the minimum wage should rise and fall based on the cost of living in a particular area.
Some states and cities probably need a minimum wage above $15 an hour, Braun said. He hinted that a state like Indiana could use a minimum wage in the ballpark of $10.50 to $12. (Indiana has had the federal minimum wage of $7.25 since 2009.)
“If you raise it and don’t take into consideration not only income but cost of living, you’re gonna lose jobs in the process,” Braun said.
Young said the bottom line is people need enough to live on.
“People need enough to be able to take care of a couple kids,” he said. “People need enough to afford health care and food and the essentials of life.”
The moderator asked both senators a detailed question about if they would support a bill requiring developers who get help from the federal government to set aside 1.5% of the money in a fund that would help longtime residents pay their increased property taxes.
Neither senator staked out a firm position on the hypothetical bill.
“I will look at anything that makes sense that’s gonna help on the housing front with both entry-level housing and senior housing,” Braun said.
Young said he thinks the federal government would be challenged in court if it tried to do something like that since property taxes are primarily a state and local issue.
President Joe Biden said during his campaign he would not raise taxes on anyone with an income over $400,000, though the administration has since clarified that benchmark applies to families, not individuals.
Young said it was a good campaign promise but thinks it’s unlikely since Biden recently unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan. The plan calls for an increase in the corporate tax rate — lowered from 35% to 21% under Trump — to cover costs.
Braun said the federal government should not raise taxes and instead “live within its means.”
“The more you raise the tax, the less incentive there’s gonna be to grow your business and create jobs and all of that,” he said.
2020 election and Trump
Was the 2020 presidential compromised, as Trump and other Republicans claimed after Biden won?
“Not systemic fraud, not widespread fraud,” said Braun, who planned to vote against certifying Arizona’s Electoral College votes but reversed his decision after the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“But there were a lot of things done in certain places,” he added. “Indiana would not have been one of them.”
Young said he had a fair amount of insight into the election because of his role as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which ended in January.
“The 2020 election was legit,” he said. “Any irregularities that might have occurred were not nearly enough to change the outcome.”
Young was also asked about his feelings toward Trump. He said he supported a lot of the economic initiatives: lower taxes, deregulation, etc.
“Our styles are very different,” Young said. “You may have picked up on that a little bit.”
Mixed reactions from attendees
Linda Johnson, who represents St. Rita Catholic Church on ONE VOICE, thought the senators tried to get out of answering some questions by saying the issue really belongs to state or local government.
Johnson, 75, used voting as an example. Young didn’t dispute the 2020 election results but said he doesn’t want the federal government to “nationalize” elections with blanket rules and regulations.
It was an insincere answer, Johnson said, because some Republicans in Congress tried to “squash what the people said” by crying foul without evidence or not certifying the election results.
Still, she said, it was good to hear directly from the senators.
“Every time you have that interaction, that’s good for them,” Johnson said, “and you have to say, ‘What am I getting that’s good for me?’”
Hattie Carlis said she was disappointed with the senators’ answers concerning gentrification and thought they ducked out of the minimum wage question by not acknowledging that the federal government establishes what the floor is.
“If they’re not gonna come with authenticity to the voter, which none of them are because they’re politicians, then there’s no need to come,” said Carlis, a 62-year-old web designer. “Basically, it was a game being played.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.