By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY — Though Sen. Joe Donnelly dropped by One Southern Indiana headquarters primarily to discuss jobs, the congressman was asked by 1si members about his views on the recent war rhetoric coming from North Korea.
Donnelly — a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee — said the U.S. has an obligation to “hope for the best” while preparing for the worst.
“We are very concerned with the conduct of the North Korean leader,” Donnelly, D-Ind., said of Kim Jong Un and his declaration this week that North Korea would restart a nuclear reactor.
Sending U.S. military planes and carriers to the area shows that the United States is serious about responding to the North Korean threats, even though some may think they are only rhetoric, he continued.
“We fully intend to protect our friend South Korea, and we fully intend to protect the citizens of our country,” Donnelly said.
He was in New Albany for his third statewide tour since taking office in January. The “Hoosier JobsRoots” tour is a way to garner feedback on how the federal government can assist businesses and get the unemployed back to work, Donnelly said. He’s a co-sponsor of the America Works Act, which Donnelly said wouldn’t create extra tax burdens but would instead more effectively disperse funds to sectors that are prime for employment growth.
It would help grow sectors, such as manufacturing, that are key for Indiana, he said.
“It simply targets dollars to those areas where jobs are being created,” Donnelly said.
And getting money into the sectors where job creation is high is one of the requests Donnelly said he’s heard from people he’s met with across the state during his latest tour. The housing and automobile sectors are getting stronger, and in Indiana, and the agriculture industry is also solid, he continued.
“Are things perfect? No. Are we growing? Yes,” Donnelly said. “I won’t be happy until everyone who wants a job has a job.”
Though issues such as gun control and the North Korean threat have grabbed headlines recently, Donnelly said ensuring people have sufficient employment is still his primary concern. He conceded that partisan ties have led to gridlock in Washington on financial and budgetary issues, but stressed that balance can still be obtained.
“I think a program that is balanced should be something that everyone agrees on,” Donnelly said.
As national lawmakers continue to grapple with suggestions of tighter gun-control laws, Donnelly stuck to his position of being a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
But he added that gun ownership must be managed in a responsible fashion.
“I believe in background checks,” Donnelly said. “I think if we can find a way to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals [and] the mentally challenged, we should do that.”
Donnelly also visited with 1si members and local leaders in January. Wendy Dant Chesser, president and CEO of One Southern Indiana, said the organization appreciated Donnelly’s willingness to listen to the concerns and ideas of its members. Donnelly fielded questions during a roundtable discussion with 1si members which included local business leaders, elected officials and educators.
“The questions they asked were very pertinent to their bottom line and how they operate their businesses,” Dant Chesser said. “From One Southern Indiana’s perspective, a better informed business owner will produce a stronger business.”