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Friday, March 24, 2017
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Speaker Paul Ryan, President Trump and Vice President Pence suffered a staggering defeat with the collapse of the American Health Care Act on Friday.
Speaker Paul Ryan, President Trump and Vice President Pence suffered a staggering defeat with the collapse of the American Health Care Act on Friday.
Friday, March 24, 2017 4:15 PM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - After seven years of vowing to repeal Obamacare, President Trump and congressional Republicans acknowledged a staggering and embarrassing defeat late Friday afternoon with the collapse of the American Health Care Act.

“We just pulled it,” President Trump told Robert Costa of the Washington Post. Throughout the day, multiple media organizations had placed Republican opposition to the AHCA over 30. Speaker Paul Ryan could not afford to lose any more than 22 votes. “Moving to an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains,” Ryan said late Friday afternoon. “We are feeling those pains today. We came really close, but we came up short. Doing big things is hard. We’ll need time to reflect on how we got to this moment. But ultimately it comes down to a choice. Are we willing to work together to get things done? The worst is yet to come with Obamacare.”

It was a humiliating loss for Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and top congressional liaison Marc Short, none of whom possessed any semblance of a viable track record to moving legislation, let alone on one of the most complex issues in modern American history. Pence became the Trump administration’s point man, often working out of a Capitol Hill office. But in 12 years as a congressman, Pence had never passed one of his own sponsored bills. He was caught in a vise between the Freedom Caucus and Tuesday Group moderates, who sparred over Medicaid funding.

Trump won the 2016 election in a stunning upset, boasting that he was an epic dealmaker. But he was exposed as lacking a viable understanding of the complexities of Capitol Hill and American politics.Trump and Pence embraced the AHCA shortly after Ryan unveiled it earlier this winter. Trump displayed a distinct naivete when he suggested that it be passed “largely intact.” He would say on Feb. 28, “Now, I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated."

It might have been news to the fledgling president, but it was an issue that dogged every presidential administration since President Reagan, who signed Health and Human Services Sec. Doc Bowen’s catastrophic health care plan in 1988. It was repealed two years later under President George H.W. Bush, who refused to defend that law.
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  • BY: MARK SOUDER
    FORT WAYNE – It seems a good time to review the key points of the Donald Trump’s “Art of the Deal.”  At the start it is important to be clear: The Republican bill is TrumpCare just as much as the current law is ObamaCare. President Obama did not draft the health care named after him. Hillary Clinton was its mother from her days as First Lady. The Democrat House wrote it and the President signed off. Because he was the President, it became ObamaCare. What goes for one side also goes for the other. They aren’t trying to replace PelosiCare. Thursday night President Trump, after making his best offer to recalcitrant conservatives who want to gut the law, he demanded that the House vote Friday. If the alternative doesn’t pass, he’s ready to let ObamaCare remain the law and move on to other issues. It is not totally out of character for him. Another of his books (“The America We Deserve”) which was written as he considered running for President in 2000, he made his views on health care clear: “We must have universal health care … I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by healthcare expenses.” 
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    INDIANAPOLIS – Years ago my late journalist colleague Harrison J. Ullmann of NUVO Newsweekly used to chide the Indiana General Assembly by frequently calling it “America’s worst legislature.” But I have to tell ya, after watching the three-ring circus in Washington, in institutions we call the White House, the House and the Senate over the past two months, when it comes to truthful, adult leadership, where prioritized legislation is based on sound research, datasets and metrics, I’ll take the Indiana General Assembly any day. When it comes to civility, transparency and earnest policy-making, the Indiana Statehouse comes off as a haven of mature leadership compared with the so-called “big leagues” inside the Washington beltway. Can you imagine Gov. Eric Holcomb making fun of a disabled reporter or calling out “Lyin’ John Gregg?” Can you imagine Senate President David Long swearing on the chamber floor, or saying he could go shoot someone on Meridian Street and win more votes? Can you imagine Speaker Brian Bosma suggesting an opponent’s father played a role in a presidential assassination, or making fun of overweight people from the well of the Indiana House?
  • By LEE HAMILTON
    BLOOMINGTON –  The challenge our political leaders face is how to get through the thicket of conflicting principles, interests and dogmas in our sprawling democracy. As you watch the healthcare proceedings on Capitol Hill, imagine what things might be like if we lived in more functional political times. In particular, what if Congress were run by pragmatists? It would not change the issues at hand. On the one side, you’d have the Republican majority in Congress, which for the most part believes that the healthcare system should be left to the private sector. On the other side would be Democrats who, to varying degrees, see an important role for government to play. What would change would be how the two sides reconciled their differences. Rather than maneuver the proceedings for political gain or worry first about their political bases, they’d be dead-set on a healthcare overhaul that improved the system and was politically sustainable.
  • By LARRY DEBOER
    WEST LAFAYETTE – Consider the eternal questions. Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why are some Indiana local government property tax rates high, while others are low? Let’s leave the answers to the first two to actual scientists. I’ll take a stab at that last one. Suppose we measure the revenue capacity of Indiana local governments. Our counties, cities, school districts, libraries and townships receive revenue from property taxes and local income taxes. Schools get a lot of aid from the state. Counties, cities and towns receive state aid for roads. And there are interest earnings, charges and fees, and dozens of other smaller revenue sources. Let’s calculate the average property tax rate for all Indiana local governments, then multiply that rate by the taxable assessed value in each county. That gives the amount they could collect if their tax rates were just average. Calculate the average revenue from local income taxes by multiplying the average local income tax rate by each county’s taxable income. Then add in school and road aid, which depend on state aid formulas. And take the state average of the other revenues per person, and multiply by county population.
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – This column is for Mr. W of Columbus, Mr. R in Terre Haute, and the many readers who see Indiana exclusively as a wonderful place. They believe, however, I tear Indiana down, not appreciating its glory. Indiana is a wonderful place because it has the opportunity to build a better future. We do not suffer from the overwhelming burdens of poverty, ignorance, and indolence that afflict many places in this world. Our problem is that we refuse to use our wealth, knowledge, and energy to make our state and communities better. Complacency is a public health hazard in Indiana. We suffer serious air and water pollution, decaying infrastructure, inadequate education, low quality public services, reactionary legislation based on superstition, all in fear that a step forward will upset the stagnation of our perceived equilibrium.
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  • Horse Race: Henderson prepares to join GOP INSen field
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – The 2018 Republican U.S. Senate race is now looking as if it will be a crowded affair with the coming entry of Atlanta, Ind., businessman Terry Henderson. The former congressional aide who now runs Achieva told HPI he will officially enter the race on April 29. He joins a likely field that includes U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, Kokomo attorney Mark Hurt, and possibly State Sen. Mike Delph and former Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke will not run, announcing recently he will seek a third term in 2019. Sources tell HPI the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee wants Messer and Rokita “to get this thing settled early on” on the money front to avoid a replay of the 2016 race between then U.S. Reps. Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman.  Messer’s fledgling campaign continued to take shape when he named Greg Pence, brother of the vice president, as his campaign finance director, and a team that includes Bob Grand, an early supporter of Rokita, and former state chairs Jim Kittle, Murray Clark and Al Hubbard.
  • Atomic: President Bullwinkle; Boris & Natasha masked; Gov warns
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show on Capitol Hill: Your Moose and Squirrel talking points before your power lunch today. We may be witnessing the Rocky and Bullwinkle presidency. There’s President Bullwinkle, who tells us amazing things we didn’t know, like the Republican Party is the “party of Lincoln.” Or that nobody knew that health care reform could be “so complicated.” And there’s Vice President Rocky, the sweet flying squirrel, beloved by all on Capitol Hill. He never passed a bill of his own during 12 years in Congress, and this past week he’s been the Capitol Hill point man seeking passage of what is universally seen as a flawed, flawed RyanCare package. Even when President Bullwinkle asks us to watch him pull a rabbit out of his hat, often times a scary creature turns up. In today’s Washington, the reality presidency of Donald Trump and Mike Pence face a daunting hurdle. And at this writing, they don’t have the votes.

  • Gov. Holcomb says RyanCare changes could avert special session

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Eric Holcomb had warned Indiana legislators last December that the Trump administration could throw a mid-session curve ball. With a potential repeal of Obamacare coming tonight, Holcomb told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that a potential special session might have been put off due to action in the House Energy and Commerce Committee that delays Medicaid changes that could impact the Healthy Indiana Plan until 2020.

  • Atomic: Pence's epic vote; Messer's list; Chamber and Joe
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Pence faces vote of his career: Vice President Mike Pence spent 12 years in the U.S. House and never got one of his bills passed. But on Thursday, he faces the biggest vote of his political career on the American Health Care Act, with the credibility of the Trump administration hanging in this deal-make-or-break balance. Both NBC and CBS are reporting that at least 27 House Republicans are voting no even after President Trump told them, “I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don't get this done.” The New York Times is reporting it could be up to three dozen, including U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, who told Elizabeth Beilman of the News & Tribune, “Any viable plan needs to ensure that coverage is actually affordable and embraces a free market system where providers compete for our business.” The rest of the Indiana GOP delegation appears to be in the fold and united with Pence and whip counter Luke Messer.

  • Atomic: Trump cloud; Messer & Pences; RyanCare whip counts

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. FBI and Trump presidency under a cloud: Three times in the television age of American politics we’ve witnessed an FBI investigation of a presidency: President Nixon and Watergate, President Reagan and Iran/Contra and President Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal. Two of the three ended on a hard track toward impeachment. So Monday’s testimony by FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers was explosive on several fronts. He confirmed that the FBI began probing a link between the Donald Trump campaign and the Kremlin last July, just as Gov. Mike Pence was coming on board, thanks to the Indianapolis airport intervention of then campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was far more than the bit player “Baghdad Bob” Spicer portrayed.

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  • Trump on Obamacare repeal collapse: 'We pulled it.'
    “We just pulled it.” - President Trump to the Washington Post, announcing there is not enough support to pass the American Health Care Act. A vote was expected late Friday afternoon, but multiple media outlets were reporting throughout the day at least 30 Republicans were going to vote against it. Other reports are that Speaker Paul Ryan “pleaded” with Trump not to have the vote after Trump vowed to have an up or down vote on Thursday. On Thursday, Ryan had said, “For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people we will repeal and replace this broken law, because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families. And tomorrow we’re proceeding.” Trump vowed to leave Obamacare in place if he couldn’t get the votes.
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  • A question for Gov. Holcomb: Who's the king of rock n' roll?
    After Howey Politics Indiana conducted a brief interview with Gov. Eric Holcomb earlier this week, we followed up with this probing question for a governor who loves rock n’ roll: Who’s the King of Rock n’ roll: Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry? Holcomb responded, “That’s a trick question. It’s not an ‘either-or’ answer. It’s ‘and.’ The world was big enough for two kings who both owned every room they ever performed in!” Great answer, Gov! - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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