By FRANK PHILLIPS
Not only is Brad Ellsworth happy to be Indiana's 8th District Congressman, but he seems to be a little like the country mouse that went to visit his cousins in the city.
In the first few weeks of the 110th Congress, members were given small buttons with "110" printed on them to identify elected officials.
Hoosiers greet one another, often when they haven't yet met. So, when Ellsworth smiled and waved at his fellow lawmakers wearing the little white buttons, they looked the other way and didn't look back.
Later, he said he learned they were Republicans.
"If we can't smile at each other and greet one another, how are we ever going to work together?" he asked approximately 125 fellow Democrats at Friday night's Jefferson-Jackson Day at Traditions in Brazil.
He had another story to tell about these days of his freshman term in our Capitol.
"People ask me, 'Whose seat did you take?'" he said.
"I tell them, the people of the 8th District of Indiana."
"'No,' they say. 'Whose seat did you take?'"
Ellsworth made the point that as much as he appreciates John Hostettler's years of service, it is not Hostettler's seat nor Ellsworth's seat, but the seat belongs to the people of Indiana.
Democratic City Council candidate Brad Deal made an impression on Ellsworth.
During the candidate introductions, Deal said, "It's time for a big change in Brazil and I think one is coming."
Ellsworth quoted Deal and said that has already begun in Washington. Americans put Democrats in the majority in Congress.
The congressman has great faith in his fellow elected officials. He believes they all have America's best interests at heart.
Ellsworth emphasized he does not always agree with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, regardless of what his opponents say.
"I got beat up pretty bad over Nancy Pelosi in this district," he said. "But we don't agree on everything."
He would like to see the President put in a room with the Congress and no one allowed to leave until they came to an agreement on Iraq. He emphasized no spin doctors or other observers be allowed to comment on the proceedings until agreement was reached.
He praises the current debate in Washington over Iraq and other issues, saying that's what makes America great -- the ability to disagree without fear.
"Speaker Pelosi has never said anything in any meeting I've attended but to say, 'Do what's right for the people, what's right for America.'"
Ellsworth recently spent a week in Iraq.
"God bless America," he said. "God bless our troops. I have never been more proud of our soldiers or more confused about what's going on in the Middle East."
Ellsworth sounded very much opposed to the war in Iraq when he said America will be attacked by the Taliban and others who don't like us because of our abundant lifestyle. We could fight in Iraq and in Afghanistan "forever" and we will still be attacked.
"Democrats are not soft on homeland security," he insisted.
Finally, Ellsworth said he supports increasing the minimum wage, giving tax breaks to small business and taking them away from large corporations. He recently filed a bill that would require companies to certify they have paid their taxes before they are allowed to get government contracts. He said six companies owing more than $1 billion were recently awarded contracts.
He credits the House for passing PAGO -- pay as you go legislation that will require a balanced budget.
"I've supported all these changes," he said.
Ellsworth is a members of House Armed Services Committee, the Agriculture Committee and the Small Business Committee.
"What are we going to leave these children?" he asked, indicating youths in the audience. "Let's reduce the national debt and leave the world safe."
Ellsworth received a standing ovation when he took the podium. There was another standing ovation before he sat down.