INDIANAPOLIS — The empowered president and do-nothing Congress that Americans have gotten accustomed to in recent years may become a thing of the past if U.S. Sen.-elect Todd Young gets his way.
In an interview following his election victory Tuesday, the Bloomington Republican said he wants to restore the primacy of the legislative branch of government — “the people’s branch” — and stop delegating so many powers to the executive branch.
“If there’s one thing that so many Republicans have been emphasizing in this election cycle, it’s the importance of putting the people back in charge of their government,” he said.
Young insisted his stance is not a reaction to Republican Donald Trump, whom Young supported, winning the presidency.
It’s an issue he’s championed for the past six years in the House where Young has unsuccessfully pushed for a congressional veto on major federal regulations.
“It’s our constitutional duty to keep the executive branch in check,” Young said.
Come January, Republicans will control both the legislative and executive branches of government, and a majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices will have been appointed by Republican presidents once Trump nominates a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Young said he hopes unified GOP control will break the policy logjam in Washington, because the whole point of elections is to put officeholders in place who will enact solutions for the problems facing Indiana and the nation.
“Many things, like tax reform and regulatory reform, that I’ve been actively involved in for the last couple of years, and believe are key to creating more jobs that pay better for all Americans, will have a fighting chance now to advance,” he said.
Young also strongly supports full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, though he’s open to restoring its “best provisions” as part of a to-be-determined replacement plan.
“We need to come up with a health care system that, at least in the long term, works for all Hoosiers and all Americans,” Young said.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to get Congress to repeal Obamacare within 100 days of taking office.
Young said he hasn’t committed to that timeline and isn’t even sure it can be done that quickly.
“If that’s the president’s objective then the president would put forth his plan for accomplishing this in 100 days,” Young said.
“I, being a responsible member of the legislative branch, would try and kick the tires of that plan and see if I might offer some constructive improvement.
“You don’t want, ideally, to create a real shock to one-sixth of our economy, the health care sector. That’s not to say there won’t be some shocks. Any time you move from one regulatory system, one tax system, one health care regime, to another, there’s going to be some adjustment. But we need to try to mitigate any adverse impact of that adjustment that we can.”
Young said he considers himself a “solutions-oriented” conservative and believes working across party lines with Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., to enact good policy is also good politics.
“It typically requires bipartisan work to build enough consensus to get things through our legislative process,” Young said.
“I not only don’t have difficulty working with people on the other side of the aisle, but I’ve got a reputation for working with others to develop creative, constructive solutions to pressing challenges.”
According to the Lugar Bipartisan Index, named for former U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., Young is in the top third of House members for how often they co-sponsor legislative proposals with a member of the opposite party.
U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., who Young is replacing, was in the bottom quarter of senators on the bipartisanship index for 2015.
Young cautioned that he doesn’t practice bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship.
He said he won’t hesitate to reject bipartisan initiatives that he doesn’t agree with.
At the same time, Young said, “I’m prepared to work with anyone, anyone who wants to create an environment where we can ensure every Hoosier has access to a quality education, a good paying job, a meaningful career right here in Indiana.”
“Anyone who will help us come up with a sustainable health care system that brings down costs and increases access while continuing to incentivize innovation. And anyone who will help keep us more safe and more secure internationally.”
Ending polarizing politics
Young, 44, is a lawyer and former Marine who worked as a military recruiter in Northwest Indiana during the 1990s.
He’s a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, a second master’s degree in American politics from the University of London and his law degree at Indiana University in Indianapolis.
Young and his wife Jenny, a niece of Dan Quayle, the former Indiana senator and U.S. vice president, have four children.
Asked to survey the state and nation, Young said he sees a political atmosphere that has become excessively polarized due in large part to anxiety and fear tied to economic changes.
Without blaming anyone specifically for it, Young said, “In too many instances in recent years American has been pitted against American, and that sort of politics needs to end.
“We need to come up with creative solutions to this very pressing challenge so that everyone feels like they’re part of America’s promise,” he said.