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Wednesday, July 26, 2017
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off the infrastructure debate with a $1 billion proposal to repair state highways, interstates and bridges. Local government officials want the governor and General Assembly to take it several steps further, and provide what the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns calls a “sustainable” funding source. IACT President Matthew Greller told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that the Pence plan is a good start. “The big thing is it’s good the administration is addressing infrastructure in a very serious way with a very serious proposal and a lot of money. But it includes no money for city and town streets and county roads. I’m disappointed because the vast majority of road miles in Indiana are maintained by local governments.”
  • Atomic: Senate health vote; Holcomb letter; McCain & Kernan
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Senate health reform vote this afternoon: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: At 12:45 p.m., Republican senators meet behind closed doors for their weekly lunch. You can bet that Vice President Mike Pence will be on hand to make the final pitch on a motion to proceed with a health care debate. There are three bills, the repeal-only bill, the Cassidy-Collins bill which contains the thrust of the Senate plan rejected, and the alternative Graham-Cassidy bill. They are expected to vote around 2:15 on the motion to proceed. U.S. Sen. Todd Young will vote to advance the mystery Senate Republican health reforms. “He will vote yes on the motion to proceed,” said spokesman Jay Kenworthy. Asked if Young had read the bill and studied last week’s Congressional Budget Office report which said that 32 million Americans will lose coverage under the main Senate GOP bill, Kenworthy responded, “Yes, he has read the bill.
  • Gov. Holcomb gauges health reform impacts in letter to Hoosiers

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Eric Holcomb has written a letter to the people of Indiana about the health care reforms that could be debated and voted on in the U.S. Senate. A vote could take place on Tuesday, but at this writing none of the senators even know what’s in the legislation. President Trump said on Monday at the White House that Senate Republicans "must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters of this country to repeal and replace."
    The Holcomb administration has been sitting on an analysis of potential Indiana impacts, but in his letter released Monday afternoon, the governor said that the evolving legislation is virtually impossible to accurately gauge. “Last week, we saw two separate publicly reported estimates about the impacts of Senate legislation that were $5 billion apart,” he said. “By tomorrow, there could be other reports with completely different numbers. As I write this, there are rumblings of a potential vote this week. The point is, no one yet knows what the final legislation will contain or whether there will even be agreement to bring a bill to a vote at all.”


  • Atomic: Kushner testimony; pardons & firings; 'imaginable' war
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Kushner’s memo and coming clean: Here are your week’s initial power lunch talking points. As this is written, presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner is testifying behind closed doors, but not under oath, before Senate Intelligence Committee that includes U.S. Sen. Todd Young. There are two precursors to this. The first is a Wall Street Journal editorial last week in which the Trump White House was urged to come clean. “Even Donald Trump might agree that a major reason he won the 2016 election is because voters couldn’t abide Hillary Clinton’s legacy of scandal, deception and stonewalling,” the WSJ editorial began. “Yet on the story of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump and his family are repeating the mistakes that doomed Mrs. Clinton. Don’t you get it, guys? Special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating the Russia story. Everything that is potentially damaging to the Trumps will come out, one way or another. Everything. Mr. (Ty) Cobb and his team should tell every Trump family member, campaign operative and White House aide to disclose every detail that might be relevant to the Russian investigations. That means every meeting with any Russian or any American with Russian business ties. Every phone call or email. And every Trump business relationship with Russians going back years. This should include every relevant part of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, which the President will resist but Mr. Mueller is sure to seek anyway. Then release it all to the public.”

  • Atomic: Target Mueller; Sessions fallout; Murray v. Sen. Grooms
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. A constitutional clash brews: Here are your Friday power lunch talking points: As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation begins to peel back the onion on the Trump business empire, we are now witnessing the beginnings of what could be an epic constitutional crisis. President Trump’s attorneys are scouring members of the Mueller task force, with Kellyanne Conway noting on Fox News this morning that some had donated to the Hillary Clinton campaign and alleged other “conflicts of interest.” Trump is asking his legal team about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself. The fact that he is even asking raises the prospect that he really has something to hide. Otherwise, why ask? This is the first modern president who didn’t release his tax returns. We know that Mueller is now probing “money laundering” of campaign manager Paul Manafort.

  • HPI Analysis: Trump, Pence, GOP whiff on health reforms
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    KOKOMO – For seven years, Hoosier Republicans railed against Obamacare. Poll after poll showed it deeply unpopular here. It drew spiteful reaction from Govs. Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence and Eric Holcomb. The Indiana delegation marched lockstep through some 60 votes in the House to repeal the ACA, all doomed under President Barack Obama. Then came Nov. 8, 2016, when the planets aligned, Donald Trump and Mike Pence forged one of the greatest upsets in presidential history, and both chambers in Congress went majority Republican. Obamacare was destined for the dustbin of history. On May 5, 2016, all Hoosier House Republicans voted for the American Health Care Act, which passed by a single vote. There was a Rose Garden beer party with President Trump as they all smiled, brimming over $880 billion in Medicaid cuts that would have booted 22 million Americans from health coverage, including about 50,000 Hoosiers in each congressional district. For the first time in modern history, a political party under a non-ideological president merely seeking a deal for a win, were attempting to roll back an entitlement. Polls showed a mere 17% supporting RyanCare or TrumpCare.
  • Horse Race: Money, rancor spill into GOP Senate race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – The second quarter FEC totals are in and there is parity between U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, though the latter took away the perception that the former’s uber finance team would provide a decisive advantage with a $1 million quarter, compared to $574,000 for Messer. Rokita ended the halfway point with $2.35 million cash on hand, compared to $2.02 million for Messer. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly reported raising $1.3 million in the second quarter of 2017 and has nearly $3.7 million in cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission reports. The Republican money wars took a back seat to the increasing rancor between the former Wabash College classmates. This played out in conspicuous fashion when Messer released a statement assailing Rokita. “For months, Todd Rokita has spread lies and half-truths about my family, claiming we are not Hoosiers and attacking my wife’s legal career,” Messer said. “He started by planting misleading news stories and whispering distortions in back rooms. This past weekend, he lifted the veil and directly attacked my wife and family in a television interview.”
  • Atomic: GOP health fisasco; Holcomb rates high; Senate warfare

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The gang that couldn’t shoot straight: Your Tuesday power lunch talking points: The Trump White House has become the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, residing in an alternative universe. President Trump dined with senators last night pushing the Senate GOP repeal and replace. “He basically said, ‘If we don’t do this, we’re in trouble,’” Politico quoted one attendee. “‘That we have the Senate, House and White House and we have to do it or we’re going to look terrible.’” Two senators who weren’t there, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, were simultaneously writing press releases becoming the third and fourth Republicans to bail. Trump had no idea the statements were coming, according to White House and congressional sources. His top aides were taken aback. Ahhh, yes, the exploding cigar that continues to dog Vice President Mike Pence, who on Saturday took his “let me be clear” stance that is often followed by fallacy: “We're on the verge of a historic accomplishment here in our nation’s capital. Because in the coming days, President Trump, working with the Congress that you helped elect, is going to keep our promise to the American people, and we are going to repeal and replace Obamacare.” Pence said this morning, "Last night we learned Senate doesn't have consensus. President Trump and I fully support just the repeal of Obamacare. Then we can start with a clean slate. The Senate should vote to repeal now and replace later. Inaction is not an option. Stay tuned. We will return."

  • Atomic: Pence & the govs; Young undecided; Trump poll tank
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Holcomb analysis under wraps as Young remains undecided: Here are your beginning of the week power lunch talking points: Gov. Eric Holcomb skipped the National Governors Association confab in Providence, and thus, missed the White House arm-twisting from Vice President Pence, HHS Sec. Tom Price and CMS Commissioner Seema Verma. The three had a tortured two days with the governors, with CNN’s Eric Bradner calling the Saturday session with Price “tense” while the White House trio made a “frantic” bid to save the Senate GOP bill. Ohio Gov. John Kasich sparred with Pence, saying the veep was lying about Medicaid waiting lines. And there was this barb from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who introduced Pence by saying, “He showed true backbone himself in Indiana when he expanded Medicaid for his citizens.”

  • Atomic: The Steve Martin defense; war warnings; tariffs & quotas
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The West Wing Steve Martin defense strategy: Your Friday power lunch talking points: Remember that Steve Martin IRS skit on Saturday Night Live way back when? Why didn’t you pay your taxes? Martin: “I forgot.” That seems to be the modus operandi of the Trump clan that has settled for a spell in the White House. We learn from NBC News today that a Russian-American lobbyist described as a “former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence” sat in on the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and campaign manager Paul Manafort. Appearing on Fox News Hannity earlier this week, Trump Jr., promised “transparency,” adding, “This is everything,” but he forgot to mention this shadowy lobbyist. Kushner filled out his foreign contact disclosure form, a secretary hit the “send” button prematurely, and he promised to make further disclosures. Except he forgot to follow up.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions forgot about his Russian contacts. If I’m involved in an American presidential campaign, and I’m approached by the Kremlin, I’m not going to forget that. When you sit down with Russian officials, and I’ve had that experience, you just don’t forget. It underscores my analysis that the Trump campaign and White House is amateurish, corrupt and gullible.
  • Sen. Donnelly posts $1.47 million for 2Q

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, IND. - U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly has posted a second quarter FEC report showing he has raised $1.47 million and has $3.7 million cash on hand. “Joe’s thankful for all the men and women who have stood with him on the way to another record-breaking quarter, and he’ll keep fighting to make sure that their brand of Hoosier common sense is represented in Washington,” said campaign manager Peter Hanscom. “By keeping the fiscally conservative mindset that has served him so well in the Senate, his cash on hand balance continues to surpass the rest of the Senate field, and he’ll keep working to make sure he has the resources he needs to defend his record.”

  • HPI Interview: Sen. Donnelly on reelect, opioids, looming war
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly is poised to compete in a $100 million reelection bid next year, described by many as the top race of the coming 2018 cycle. When Howey Politics Indiana sat down with him for this interview at LePeep in downtown Indianapolis last Friday, an epic parade of events marched before us on a virtual minute-by-minute basis, from President Trump’s two-hour meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, to the health care reforms teetering in the Senate, to the opioid pandemic blistering Indiana’s cities and prairies and plunging families into crisis and despair. We began this interview by talking about his emerging Senate campaign, five years after the Granger Democrat won a first term by defeating Republican Richard Mourdock. He voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2010, yet has won two campaigns since then. The issues and leaders have shifted in improbable ways, and our hour-long conversation ran a course from politics to pandemic, to a potential nuclear war.
        
  • Atomic: Lotter spins on Pence, Kremlin; Rokita's $1 million haul
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Pence, Lotter & the Kremlin on Fox News: Your Thursday power lunch talking points: Did Vice President Mike Pence meet with the Russians? That was the question from Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” host Bill Hemmer posed to Pence spokesman Marc Lotter. And Lotter danced. “Clear up a few things for us now. Did the vice president ever meet with representative from Russia?” Hemmer asked. “The vice president is not focused on the areas where, you know, on this campaign, especially things that happened before he was even on the ticket,” Lotter responded. “As he has said, that when he joined the campaign his entire focus was on talking to the American people, taking the case that President Trump was going to make to the American people.” Hemmer tried again: “I understand. Fully aware of the statement there.  Just come back to this question here: If it wasn’t a private citizen from Russia, did he ever meet with representatives from the Russian government during the campaign?” Lotter responded, “That stuff, the special prosecutors and the counsels are all looking at.” And the optics were weird: Lotter, Pence, the Kremlin. Who’d a thunk it?

  • Atomic: Donald Jr. and GOP; Pence pounce; Lawson sued
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Owning the Trump cards: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Last May, Donald Trump Jr. received a hero’s welcome before the Indiana Republican Party’s Spring Dinner. “It’s totally surreal,” Trump said after receiving a standing ovation before he reminisced about the 2016 Indiana primary which his father, President Trump, won with 53%. “It’s hard to believe. This one’s the firewall. This is the one that’s going to break it. We’re getting used to some of that media attention and the lack of their accuracy.” Today, Trump Jr., created one of the most jaw-dropping moments in presidential history when he released an e-mail string showing his willingness to collude with the Kremlin.
  • HPI Interview: Gov. Holcomb rises to the opioid crisis
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    GREENWOOD, Ind. – Nearly a half century ago, rock star Neil Young stood before a hushed and rapt crowd at UCLA, singing the fateful words: “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done, a little part of it in everyone, and every junkie’s like a setting sun ….” It was a cautionary tale for the Baby Boomers, many who would smoke pot, drop acid, snort coke but winced at the notion of striking a vein and injecting the smack. Where we find ourselves today is an Indiana in pandemic, facing a 500% increase in overdose fatalities since 2000. Some 80 percent of Hoosiers entering the Department of Corrections have a drug problem, often beginning in the family medicine cabinet. Last Wednesday, with Gov. Eric Holcomb gazing a few feet away, a new face of the pandemic stood forward. Her name is Amy Rardon, a beautiful Hoosier woman from Indianapolis whose back pains commenced a harrowing decade-long journey into addiction.
  • HPI Interview: Holcomb on HIP 2.0, cold beer and state workforce
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    RICHMOND – Here is where Gov. Eric Holcomb stands on other key issues:? On governors influencing the health reforms: “I’m hopeful there would be a bipartisan solution, but if there’s not one, we need to be able to lead and get the right answer. Not just to get something done, but to get it right. This is not just an opportunity, it’s an obligation. My message has been, let’s get it right. With the Healthy Indiana Plan and HIP 2.0, we got that right. That option has been attractive to many others around the country. I would hope that will be included in what’s next; we know there has to be a what’s next. I have been very supportive of reform, because what we have now is not working and not what was advertised. That is an indictment of the system and it has to change. I want to be helpful as a governor, because I represent all the people. I welcome the additional responsibility for that needed state flexibility and control. We cannot continue with the mindset that Washington will pay for what we need. That money comes not from thin air, but from Indiana and Ohio and Michigan.  We can’t dial up a $20 trillion debt and say, “You pay for this, son.” We have to address this. I am hopeful that we will do something. My role is to obviously show Exhibit A, Indiana, the way we’ve been able to do it.
  • Sen. Young warns of U.S. military strike on North Korea
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Sen. Todd Young believes that a day of reckoning may be just months off with North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear program, and that most Americans aren’t prepared to such a reality. “We’re not being passive,” Young told HPI when we met for an HPI Interview in mid-June. “The time for strategic patience has passed, as Sec. Tillerson has stated. I think we needed to change course. Simply standing by and hoping Kim Jung Un will be welcomed into the community of nations is not going to work.” Young explained, “I know contingency planning has taken place in respect to all options. The last thing we want is to have to resort to a military option. I think it’s appropriate for this administration to keep all options on the table, but here are still economic tools we can use, diplomatic tools that remain on the table. Sequentially we can tighten the thumb screws on the North Korean regime, but there aren’t many good moves left on the chess board. “This is an issue that in the coming months could come to a head and the American people need to understand that,” Young said.
  • Atomic: Donnelly presses Holcomb; Trump meets Putin
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Senate health care bill impacts in Indiana unknown: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: The Senate Republican health reforms appear to still be on life support with North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven the latest Republican to indicate a probable no vote while Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is warning that if repeal/replace fails, the Senate will have to fashion a bipartisan fix to bolster the sabotaged insurance markets. This comes as the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports that the Holcomb administration has an assessment on the impact of the legislation on the state, but isn’t saying what it is. Press secretary Stephanie Wilson said, “We'll keep a close eye on what happens when Congress is back in session, and we'll continue to work on our analysis of the bill as it evolves. The governor has been very clear about what he would like to see in this bill and what he is asking federal partners to provide: Flexibility, control and time to adjust.”

  • Atomic: New face of addiction; Trump in Poland; war drums beat
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Greenwood

    1. New face of addiction as Gov. Holcomb acts: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: HPI has spent parts of two days with Gov. Eric Holcomb over the past week, and what is striking is how passionately he is plunging into the opioid/heroin epidemic. Holcomb became visibly emotional during his Valle Vista announcement in Greenwood when he announced five new opioid treatment centers, as well as availing methadone treatments. As we talked on the way from Richmond to Greenfield last week, I asked him his point of orientation on the pandemic. “It did start in Delphi, Indiana, when an individual came up to me, stuck his hand out, introduced himself and said he would like to talk to me in six months. I didn’t know what he meant by that, but as the conversation unfolded, he meant that he hoped he was alive in six months. He said he had been clean and sober for the last six months and that he was hopeful to have another conversation with me.” HPI asked: “Do you know if he’s still alive?” Holcomb: “No. I would like to.”

  • Emotional Gov. Holcomb announces opioid treatment expansion
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    GREENWOOD - An emotional Gov. Eric Holcomb was flanked by key advisers and victims of Indiana’s opioid pandemic and announced five new treatment centers and an expansion of the use of methadone to combat a problem that has seen a 500% increase in overdose deaths since 2000. Speaking after Amy Rardon, an Indianapolis woman who spent the past decade battling addiction, Holcomb observed, ”I will never look at the state seal again the same. Seeing the sun rise, and people going to work in the morning, seeing that light shine down, in this individuals’ darkest hour, this is a day that encourages us all. I just thank you for your courage, strength and desire to be on this journey and that others are welcome to be with you.”

  • Indiana won't comply with Pence's presidential vote fraud commission

    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said on Friday that the state cannot comply with a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s request for state voter data. “Indiana law doesn’t permit the Secretary of State to provide the personal information requested by Secretary Kobach. Under Indiana public records laws, certain voter info is available to the public, the media and any other person who requested the information for non-commercial purposes. The information publicly available is name, address and congressional district assignment,” said Lawson. Lawson is a member of the commission that is headed by Vice President Mike Pence. The stumbling commission asked states for information, including names, dates of birth, voting histories and, if possible, party identifications. The letters also asked for evidence of voter fraud, convictions for election-related crimes and recommendations for preventing voter intimidation — all within 16 days, according to the Washington Post.

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  • Zody continues to press Gov. Holcomb on health reform impacts
    “Leaders take a clear, concise position and lay out a path forward. Instead, Gov. Holcomb has artfully dodged taking a position on federal health care legislation. He knows it could cost the Hoosier economy billions of dollars, close rural hospitals and threaten progress made fighting Indiana’s opioid epidemic. The Holcomb Administration is keeping Hoosiers in the dark, refusing to release the analysis of the impact of federal action on health care, something the governor himself said he’d do. A number of Holcomb’s Republican governor colleagues have come out against Senate Republicans’ latest health care bill. They’ve stood up against the bill’s devastating cuts to Medicaid and said ‘no’. It seems a blind loyalty to his political party and not the millions of Hoosiers he serves is driving his actions. Yes, or no, do you support a repeal only of the Affordable Care Act and the end of HIP 2.0 as we know it, Governor Holcomb? When will you release your administration’s analysis of this bill’s impact on the Indiana economy and Hoosiers’ health care?” - Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody, on Gov. Eric Holcomb’s refusal to release an administration analysis of the Senate Republican health legislation and the impacts on Indiana health care ahead of today's procedural vote.
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  • Expect more White House chaos
     Months ago I speculated on how many Trump cabinet appointees would last a year. Today, President Trump is openly conspiring to terminate Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisory H.R. McMaster appear to be tenuous. So does Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. And new comm director Anthony Scaramucci is threatening a leak purge. All of this comes as “all options are on the table” with regard to North Korea, where the Chinese are now moving military assets at the border. And Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts last night? My reaction as an Eagle Scout is this: About the most unScout performance I’ve ever witnessed. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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