In the News

Baird expresses pride in country, Congress

Washington, September 7, 2020 | By: Jared Jernagan

Even in the midst of racial unrest, a pandemic and a contentious presidential election, Congressman Jim Baird is proud of what he’s seen from his country in 2020.

While admitting that things have gotten very rocky as Congress negotiates another round of COVID-19 emergency assistance, the Greencastle Republican expresses great pride in what was done back in the spring.

“I thought we did a really good job of coming through,” Baird said. “We took care of the emergency responders first. And then we came back with plans for families and unemployment and then we came back for small businesses.”

On this last matter, Baird notes that the Small Business Administration has handled more volume in terms of grants and loans than it normally would in a number of years.

In thinking about the urgency of those early weeks in particular, Baird thinks about the way a previous generation reacted to crisis.

“It reminds me of World War II, the way we came together and found a solution,” Baird said.

For an example of this, Baird looks at how factories around the country switched their processes to make the things the nation needed to respond to COVID-19.

“When you have factories that have changed their production, it really lets me know how much they understand their equipment to make ventilators or masks or hand sanitizer,” Baird said. “It’s just refreshing.

“That’s inspiring in my opinion.”

While the pandemic and response still grip the country six months or so after the initial wave, Baird told the Banner Graphic he believes some unnecessary issues have made their way into the negotiations.

“So now we’re moving into an area where we’re making less progress,” Baird said. “We’re bringing in issues that maybe need to be dealt with, but not until we get the coronavirus behind us.”

He said he also has the national debt in mind during any such negotiations.

“The other thing that is coming in is, I’m always concerned about the amount of debt we’re bringing in,” Baird said. “In these negotiations, we’re about $2 trillion apart. And $2 trillion is a lot in my book.”

Looking around the country, Baird said he sees other problems, such as protests that have turned violent in a number of places.

“I don’t think anybody objects to having peaceful protests, but when you move into destroying personal property and looting, I don’t agree with that,” Baird said. “Someone is going to have to pay for all of that, and I don’t think it should be tax dollars.”

From there he moved into the discussion of defunding the police.

“You tell me,” Baird asked, “who are you going to call when something is happening to their families?”

Police reform, on the other hand, is something Baird allows is necessary, though he believes that most do a good job.

“There’s certainly a need to make sure that our police officers perform to a high standard,” Baird said. “And for the most part, I think you can say that’s absolutely true. I’ve even heard some officers say that even they want to find a bad cop and have them removed.”

Baird also gave praise to Operation Legend, a Department of Justice initiative that targets violence in cities across the country.

“Information that I have shows that they have arrested over 1,500 individuals and 90 individuals that have been involved in murders have been involved in this Operation Legend,” Baird said. “I think that’s an important part of what’s happening now.”

Looking abroad, Baird said he is proud that Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act.

“In my opinion with my military background, it’s critical that we make other adversaries recognize that we are a strong military country,” Baird said.

He also praised the diplomatic work that has led to improved relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

“When you look at the unrest in the Middle East and how volatile it is, having that kind of stability, it definitely impacts us and has an influence on us and our people’s safety,” Baird said. “The fact that they are going to open embassies in each other’s country and open communication, that’s a good place to start.”

On the other hand, Baird said his concern about China has increased in recent months.

“The coronavirus has revealed a lot about China, not so much the people, but the Chinese Communist Party and their desire to be a world power.”

He said the nation has increased military efforts in the South China Sea and that from an economic standpoint, it controls 80 to 90 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients in the world.

“It comes down to the fact that not only are we dependent upon them, but they’ve acquired a lot of our debt as well,” Baird said, noting that this makes it even more important to have good relationships with other Asian and Pacific nations.

Finally, Baird expressed his concern about socialism taking hold in the country.

“I have a real concern for talking about socialism and talking about it so openly,” Baird said. “It has been tried in so many places around the world and it has not been successful. I don’t understand how anyone could talk about moving to socialism.

“To me, this country is still the shining light on the hill. I think we give hope ­ and that’s an important word ­— that there is a place or you can create a place that is friendly and enticing to raising your family and being safe.”

Baird noted that while doing the business of Congress has changed in recent months, he’s done his best to stay active in Indiana’s Fourth District, noting that his office has responded to more than 30,000 constituent messages in that time and settled 190 cases for those having issues with federal agencies. This has brought between $70,000 and $80,000 to those constituents.

“At the current time, I am the voice of this legislative district,” Baird said. “I sure think it’s important that we all have a voice at the legislative table.”