With so many believing the United States is in the dumps, Sen. Richard Lugar would prefer to remain optimistic about the country's future.
"I'd like to be optimistic that we're going to make headway," Lugar told a packed house Saturday at the YMCA of Clay County, 225 E. Kruzan St., Brazil.
The long-time Republican Senator was the guest speaker for the Clay County Republican Club's meeting Saturday.
During his two-hour visit, Lugar discussed a handful of issues, including agriculture, food, oil, health care, and more. He also offered residents an opportunity to ask him questions.
He spent several minutes on all the topics.
Lugar told the audience Saturday it was crucial for America's farmers to not only plant for the country, but the world as well.
"Around the world, millions are not eating well," Lugar said. "Governments are trying to hang on by distributing food subsidies. This leads to political unrest."
In addition, Lugar said the world's wheat crop is not in good shape.
"It's important to celebrate the uniqueness of American farmers," Lugar said. "We're doing well, but we have to do better still. We have a chance to create extraordinary wealth in rural areas of Indiana."
In regard to the ongoing debate on health care, Lugar said he does not support current legislation.
Lugar added, especially in rural areas, getting quality health care is not easy. However, he noted the Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health, based at Indiana State University, is helping with the issue.
"Having doctors and other professionals in the area is essential," he said. "A lot of private doctors in Indiana are getting up in age. Rural health in Indiana is not the best. We need doctors in western Indiana.
"But there are positive signs. This is not the end to the story regarding health care."
Lugar then tackled the increasing prices of gasoline, saying nearly all of the past five presidents have said the country has to become independent of foreign oil.
Lugar said he does not agree with the cap-and-trade policies of the Obama administration while adding the country should look to its coal industry for additional energy use, adding China is currently looking for coal in Africa.
"We will either solve these problems in a rational way or people will fight over it until they die," Lugar said.
He then discussed the country's budget issues, stating the country hasn't officially had a budget in a while, but rather has moved forward with continual resolutions.
"(The budget issues) lie immediately ahead," he said. "We have discussed very little in the first three-four months of the year."
Lugar said he hopes to find ways to cut further into the budget and added entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security may have to be cut.
While discussing American troops overseas, Lugar said he does not favor involvement in Libya.
"Libya is in a Civil War," he said. "At this particular point, our armed forces are stretched. We have had an involvement and it's expensive and the meter is running."
During the question/answer session, Parke County resident Judy Proctor said the country was collapsing due to financial problems that may not be able to be repaired.
"We are not in collapse," Lugar said. "There are opportunities. This is not a time of over-confidence.
"Many citizens in our country are angry. But I'm an optimist. This is an exceptional country and the world still relies on us."