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Wednesday, September 20, 2017
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017 10:42 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Trump says ‘Rocket Man’ on ‘suicide mission’

Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: President Trump made his case against North Korea and Iran during his address to the general session of the United Nations this morning. “We meet in a time of both immense promise and great peril. We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife,” Trump said. “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world. We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime. Hopefully this will not be necessary.” Essentially, Trump threatened nuclear war at the United Nations. That was Trump’s weekend Twitter nickname for North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un. “The United States is ready." He called the Iran deal “one of the worst and most one-sided in history. That deal was an embarrassment to the United States. We will stop radical Islamic terrorism and not allow it to destroy the world.”

Trump thanked world leaders for aid to hurricane victims. He recounted how the U.S. “has done very well since Election Day,” citing that stock market and job growth are “at an all-time high.” Trump added, “Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been.” Trump added, "Strong sovereign nations let their people take ownership of their future and control their own destiny. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty.” And Trump added, "Our government's first duty is to its people...I will always put America first. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people where it belongs. We are guided by outcomes, not ideology.”

2. Holcomb charges IEDC for Amazon HQ2

Gov. Eric Holcomb has returned from Japan and is now fully engaged on Amazon H2Q. “After I arrived home Friday night, I spent the weekend in briefings about the Amazon bid process,” Holcomb explained. “Indiana has a tremendous opportunity to be seriously considered in this process. We are doing what Amazon has asked us to do: Coordinating efforts with all interested regions of the state to put our best bid forward. I’ve called on the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to lead this collaborative effort that will culminate with a bid submission that includes local and state incentives as well as recommended best sites.” Gary joins Indy/Fishers, Boone County (five sites) and the Indiana Louisville suburbs in the quest for this $5 billion, 50,000-employee motherlode.

3. Pence goes nationwide

Vice President Pence did meet with Lafayette area World War II Honor Flight veterans, but when it comes to his Indiana roots, he is throwing off his Hoosier staff. The latest is press secretary Marc Lotter, who was quickly replaced by Alyssa Farah, a top adviser to the House Freedom Caucus and former communications director to Rep. Mark Meadows, who heads the Tea Party caucus. Lotter follows former chief of staff Josh Pitcock out the door and on his way to the coming “Marc Lotter Show.”
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    INDIANAPOLIS – If I’m gonna go to the Amazon, I’m going to pack and pack tight, take a first aid kit, mosquito netting, a hammock, a Sears poncho, rations, trail mix, potable water and . . . cold beer. As the General Assembly’s Alcohol Code Revision Commission met last Monday, mayors from Indianapolis and Fishers, along with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, were dreaming of Amazon’s HQ2, a $5 billion, 50,000 employee, high-wage gem. Analysis from the New York Times and others place Indiana in the mix along with dozens of other cities until “quality of life” and “mass transit” come into play. With this plum capturing site selector fantasy, Indiana is plunging into a debate about where carryout cold beer can be sold and whether it should be available on Sundays beyond Big Woods, Upland, Mad Anthony and dozens of other craft breweries springing up across the state. In 49 other states and the District of Columbia, the temperature of beer sales is unregulated. Indiana is the only state that bans retail beer, wine and liquor sales on Sundays.
    INDIANAPOLIS – What a great week for contrasts in American politics. The 2016 election continues for Democrats while President Trump has moved on and is willing to reach across party lines to get results for the American people.  The same week that Hillary Clinton’s book came out, and Bernie Sanders came out with his new plan – wait, I mean the same old plan – is the same week we hear that President Trump and Vice President Pence will visit Indiana and other states to take their powerful message to the people. Right on! The message is simple and the changes are long overdue. As President Trump said, “We believe everyday Americans know better how to spend their own money than the federal bureaucracy, and we want to help them keep as much of that hard-earned money as we can.” The president wants to lower taxes for the middle class, so that Americans have more in their pocketbooks, and for employers, so they can expand and hire more workers and pay more. 
    EVANSVILLE – The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) debate revolves in part around a Constitutional question: Does the president unilaterally set immigration policy, or do such laws require congressional authorization? When President Obama lacked the votes to get DACA through Congress, he simply implemented it via executive order. In truth, DACA was headed toward a legal challenge that likely would have overturned the rule as unconstitutional. Congress needed to take it up one way or the other anyway. But this administration’s motives to end DACA, or at least sow confusion among those benefiting from it, most certainly find their roots in more than just constitutional concerns. The #MAGA crowd feels their American identity and financial well-being stretched and insecure. Immigrants make an easy culprit. We’ve witnessed similar tension at other points in our country’s history – the Civil War, waves of immigration at the turn of the 20th century, and the cultural revolution of the 1960s – but throughout those conflicts the question was whether white Christians would make more room for other groups at a table they still dominated. In those older conflicts new groups gained acceptance in exchange for cultural assimilation.
    SOUTH BEND – Which party now is going the way of the Whigs? Political pundits have pontificated about that for decades, actually since 1854. That’s when the Whig Party, once one of two major parties and dominant in the 1840 presidential and congressional elections, disintegrated – split over slavery and stuck on less relevant issues. It quickly ceased to exist. Now, once more, come prognostications about which party is going the way of the Whigs. Some analysts in the press, in political science, in think tanks, in bars, say it is the Republican Party. Theory for demise? That it cannot survive the divisive and bizarre presidency of Donald Trump, who alienates so many segments of the population, including the growing number of Hispanic voters, African-Americans, the young and on and on. Also, Republicans have total control of Congress at a time when polls show total contempt for Congress. And the GOP seems mired in issues of the past instead of what voters want for the future. The Democratic Party theory for demise? That it was so inept that it lost to Trump and still concentrates more on Bernie vs. Hillary than on a unifying message to keep Trump from winning again over an inept opposition.
    MERRILLVILLE  – Almost without exception, what happens just across the state line in Illinois has an impact on Northwest Indiana. When property taxes go up, scores of Illinois residents move to Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. When the Illinois sales tax goes up – particularly in Cook County – people flock to Indiana to buy cars, cigarettes, gasoline, appliances and more.  And now, Cook County residents are coming to Northwest Indiana to buy pop and other soft drinks containing sugar. The Cook County Board has approved a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary soft drinks. The financially strapped county says the tax will raise about $200 million annually and prevent the closure of Stroger Hospital or a reduction in its services, particularly to low-income residents.
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  • Atomic! Gov heads to Amazon; mayors on climate, parental leave
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Holcomb from Japan to Amazon: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Gov. Eric Holcomb returns from Japan today after a weeklong trade mission to Tokyo, Nagoya and Tochigi Prefecture, Indiana’s sister state. He topped off the tour by sinking a basketball at Aichi Prefecture after meeting with Gov. Ohmura. After doing so in all 92 counties, the gov vowed to make baskets in all 47 Japanese prefectures. “We've accomplished a great deal together these 9+ days #INJapan,” Holcomb tweeted. “Our visit to Aichi has been the perfect capstone to my first visit to Japan.” Holcomb, presiding over a state with a 3.5% jobless rate for August, now faces one of the greatest challenges of his fledgling administration: Land the Amazon H2Q that could bring 50,000 high-paying jobs.
  • HPI Analysis: Trump2.0 and the courting of Sen. Donnelly
    INDIANAPOLIS – One week ago we witnessed what could be President Trump 2.0. It occurred as a smiling Vice President Pence watched in the Oval Office as minority Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi sat nearby. President Trump abruptly shut down a discussion where Treasury Sec. Steve Mnunchin was talking about an 18-month debt ceiling window. Then – Presto! – came the art of the deal with new-found friends “Chuck and Nancy.” Trump would agree to a three-month delay on the debt ceiling, pushing it to December, and tied it to $15 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief. It left Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stunned, perplexed and furious and fearing 2018 mid-term fallout. McConnell was whispering that he didn’t believe Trump had a strategy, that it was just another impulse move in search of that elusive deal. Mike Allen of Axios observed: “It’s now possible that Trump’s biggest legislative wins this year will be more spending and raising the debt cap – the exact opposite of what Tea Party Republicans came to D.C. to do. Trump ‘brazenly rolled his own party’s leaders,’ as AP put it.” Fast-forward to Tuesday night when U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly joined fellow Democrat Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin for dinner and a scoop of ice cream (President Trump had two) at the White House.
  • Horse Race: ND prof riles up Senate race
    INDIANAPOLIS – A Notre Dame law professor who has been nominated for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has been thrust into Indiana’s U.S. Senate race. Prof. Amy Coney Barrett was questioned by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin during Senate hearings last week and drew a rebuke from Notre Dame President John Jenkins. “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for, for years in this country,” Sen. Feinstein said of the pro-life professor at the Catholic university. “Dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different.” Durbin criticized Barrett’s prior use of the term “orthodox Catholic,” saying it unfairly maligns Catholics who do not hold certain positions about abortion or the death penalty. “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Durbin asked.
  • Atomic! Cold beer battlelines; Donnelly & Trump; Gov in Tokyo
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Cold beer alliances and illogics: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: What we heard at Monday’s Alcohol Code Revision Commission was a basic restating of positions. The convenience stores want to sell cold beer and are willing to submit to stricter regulations with Ricker’s CEO Jay Ricker claiming the state was “choosing winners” with the current archaic system. "We want to take a product that we currently sell warm, and sell that same product cold," Matt Norris of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association said. "We do not believe there is a public policy rationale to justify this distinction." The liquor stores claim cold beer is a dangerous product and only they are responsible enough to sell it. NWI Times reporter Dan Carden reports: Several suggested cold beer availability at gas stations would lead to increased drunken driving, even though they admitted most Hoosiers drive to liquor stores when they purchase cold beer. They also cautioned that cold beer sales could lead to demand for Sunday retail alcohol sales, which they claimed would further harm liquor stores by driving up operating costs relative to grocery, drug and convenience stores that already are open Sundays.

  • Atomic! Votes against relief; Bannon declares war; beer hearing
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Messer, Rokita votes against disaster aid: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: The Indianapolis Colts, and not Florida, met their worst case scenario on Sunday. While Florida officials are just now assessing the damage of Hurricane Irma, which hit the Keys as a Category 4 and then Naples as Category 2, the biggest impact seems to be 6 million people without power. The storm followed Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and that prompted President Trump to seek $15 billion in disaster relief. But in the House, U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita, Luke Messer, Trey Hollingsworth, Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski voted against the bill, while Democrat U.S. Reps. Andre Carson, Pete Visclosky, Sen. Joe Donnelly and Republican Reps. Susan Brooks, Larry Bucshon and Sen. Todd Young voted for the bill. The nagging question here is what if the disaster had hit Indiana?  How would Hoosiers feel if Congress turned its back in our time of need?

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  • Rep. Brooks endorses Messer in GOP Senate race
    "Luke and I have been friends for a long time, and being his colleague and watching him work up close, I have no doubt he'll make a great U.S. Senator. We face tough issues as a nation and need Luke Messer in the Senate to meet those challenges and make Washington work better for Hoosiers. Luke is a proven conservative, but more than that, he is a respected and skillful leader who builds the relationships necessary to get our shared priorities enacted into law. His principles and strong communication skills have made him a go-to leader in the House, and those same attributes will enable Luke to deliver results when he arrives in the U. S. Senate. His record of fighting for school choice to create better education opportunities for tens of thousands of Indiana families and protecting veterans’ GI Bill benefits shows Hoosiers they can trust him to do the right thing and do it well.” - U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, endorsing U.S. Rep. Luke Messer for the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate nomination on Wednesday. Messer faces U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, attorney Mark Hurt, businessman Terry Henderson, State Rep. Mike Braun and educator Andrew Takami in the GOP primary.
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  • Mike and Hillary
    We’ve watched 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton make the rounds on her new book: “What Happened.” The reaction has been cringes from Democrats hoping to move on, a set-the-record mentality from some journalistic quarters, and taunts from Republicans. Vice President Pence has the best line of all, with this tweet Thursday morning: “The first book that has the question and the answer on the cover.” Good line, Mike, er … Mr. Vice President. It harkens back to those studio days near the Speedway and a retreat to Claude & Annies. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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