INDIANAPOLIS | U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., believes an $85 billion across-the-board cut in federal spending may be just what the United States needs to finally get serious about its "unsustainable" finances. 

"I think it's going to go forward and needs to go forward -- it's the only leverage we have to try to force the president and the Democrats into a long-term package that will put us on the path to fiscal health and a balanced budget," Coats said.

Coats doesn't like that all federal spending, including the armed forces, will be cut equally on March 1. He said there's still time to change that if President Barack Obama will seriously consider targeted spending cuts.

"It's much better if we do it another way. We're ready to do it another way," Coats said. "But the president got his take on taxes; we think the problem is spending, and if this is the only way we can get the leverage to get to a big package, we're going to do it."

The senator shrugged off projections showing that enacting the spending cuts, also known as the sequester, will shrink the nation's economic growth in half for 2013.

"It's not the best way to do it, it's the worst way to do it, but it's the only leverage that we have," Coats said.

Coats visited the Statehouse on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday. He told the 50 members of the Indiana Senate he's proud to represent a state whose budget is balanced and debt is low.

He called Indiana a model for the nation to follow and said the automatic budget cuts may be the first step toward making the federal government more like Indiana's.

"This is about getting our country's fiscal house in order so the state of Indiana -- poised to explode as a tax-friendly, living-friendly, business-friendly state -- can reap the benefits of all the hard work that has been done," Coats said.