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Monday, March 27, 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.”
  • HPI Analysis: Chairman Zody plots a Democratic comeback
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – As the dust has settled on the Indiana Democrats’ 2016 disaster, state Chairman John Zody coursed through the state, including the rural outposts where his party is barely a factor, to gather thoughts and perspectives. He was decisively reelected to a second term last Saturday, defeating State Sen. Lonnie Randolph and former legislator John Aguilaria, both who believe the party is ignoring its base of Lake County. “Over the course of the last four months I’ve done 12 forums,” Zody said on Tuesday. “I got a lot of input on moving forward after a tough election.” It was an election that President Trump ruined. Despite a well-funded, issue-oriented campaign, gubernatorial John Gregg went down to defeat, Evan Bayh’s political career ran into a wall, the party was routed from all its constitutional Statehouse warrens and controls only 40 of the 150 General Assembly seats.
  • GOP health fiasco dilemma: Dig in as people suffer, or reach out
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – They were wistful. They lamented. They vowed to try again. In the wake of the collapse of their seven-year vow to repeal and replace Obamacare, Republican members of the Indiana congressional delegation said all the right things aimed at their base. “This is a bad day for the American people. Today’s result means health care costs will continue to rise, coverage will get worse and millions of families will continue to be shackled to Obamacare’s suffocating mandates and taxes,” said U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, who was on the House GOP whip team. “That said, our work continues. I will always fight for the Hoosiers who sent me here and strive to repeal this failed law.” And U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, sitting in the most competitive Indiana 2nd CD, added, “Too many Hoosiers are facing higher premiums, fewer options, and a collapsing system under Obamacare. I’m disappointed in today’s outcome because the American people deserve relief from Obamacare’s broken promises."
  • Trump, Pence and Ryan suffer embarrassing health care defeat
    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.
  • 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.

  • FBI Director Comey confirms Trump/Kremlin probe
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. A sensational week builds in Washington: FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency head Adm. Michael Rogers are testifying before the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference this morning. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings get underway, and the U.S. House is expected to vote on the epic American Health Care Act on Thursday. How’s that for a high-stakes week? The RyanCare bill is the first big congressional test not only for President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and legislative liaison Marc Short, but also for Speaker Paul Ryan, who has a lot at stake. The White House is squeezing hard line conservatives.
  • IU searches; JD Vance moves home; Medicaid slashed
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. A Hoosier basketball dilemma: As an IU alum (BA History, 1978), here are my two cents after the firing of basketball coach Tom Crean. I understand why AD Fred Glass made the move, but I still don’t like it for a reason I stated the other day: Paying coaches not to coach. I also believe in redemption after a season like this one. Crean resurrected this program to a respectable level after the Kelvin Sampson debacle and a full decade would have been proper. I thought Crean deserved another year to coax game out of stars like Thomas Bryant and O.G. Anunoby. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both go pro, and perhaps that figured into Glass’s decision. Perhaps they were gone anyway, Crean was facing a tough rebuilding without that talent and a contract extension. That’s the scenario for a program tailspin. Where to go now? I am intrigued by bringing back UCLA’s Steve Alford. My second choice would be Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, though the Koch Brothers will make him a potentially expensive acquisition. My third choice would be Creighton’s Greg McDermott.
  • Trump budget winners/losers; Director Coats; saving Pvt. RyanCare
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. President Trump’s slashing budget: President Trump unveiled his first budget today and there are the inevitable winners and losers. If you’re at the Pentagon (10% increase), Homeland Security (6.8%), Veterans Affairs (5.9%) or the National Nuclear Administration (up 11.4%), you’re in a good mood today. From an Indiana perspective with our opioid epidemic, there’s a $500 million increase for prevention and treatment via Health and Human Services and Justice. Losers? The EPA faces a 31.4% cut, or $2.6 billion, slashing 3,200 jobs. HHS faces a $12.6 billion cut, or 16.2%.  Folks at Foggy Bottom have long faces, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development, down 28%, or $10 billion. The National Institute of Health faces a 19% reduction. The Department of Agriculture faces a 21% cut at $4.7 billion. Labor faces a 20% cut and Transportation 13%. So long, Amtrak. Oh, and this one: IRS down $1 billion. Axios reports that since 2010, the IRS has lost 17,000 employees, noting, “Chances of getting audited have rarely been so low.” President Trump is under audit, but not so much for the rest of us.

  • A Trump tax division; Graham AHCA punt; Crean slips to bottom
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Muncie

    1. A Trumpian tax diversion: Five talking points before your hump day power lunch. A tried and alternative fact modus operandi of the Trump administration and campaign is if the heat is turning up, divert. So you have to wonder if “John Miller” leaked two scant “client copy” pages President Trump’s 2005 federal tax returns in order to take the eyes off the growing RyanCare debacle that is cleaving that loose confederation we call the Republican Party. The White House blamed the “dishonest media,” but then said in a statement, presumably approved by “John Miller”, “You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago.
  • Holcomb seeks HIP 2.0 save; 4 Demless counties; Bucshon reacts
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Holcomb appeal amidst a historic rollback of benefits: The dilemma facing President Trump and congressional Republicans is that the loss of health coverage to 14 million Americans in 2018 and 24 million over the next decade if anything like RyanCare passes will be the unprecedented rollback in benefits in American history. Not with Social Security, Medicare or the GI Bill. Never before have Americans experienced what they face under the RyanCare plan. The problem for Trump and the GOP is that they’re on record promising “coverage for everyone” (Trump) and “nobody will be worse off financially” (HHS Secretary Tom Price), when the opposite will happen.

  • Rep. Rokita 'strongly considering' 2018 U.S. Senate race

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita all but declared his candidacy for the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate nomination which will likely pit him against U.S. Rep. Luke Messer. It could set up the second consecutive cycle where two GOP members of Congress square off for a Senate seat, this one held by U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly. Rokita has been telling Republican insiders that polling he conducted last summer when he ran a 12-day campaign for governor showed him within 5% of Donnelly. Rokita lost the Indiana Republican Central Committee vote to now Gov. Eric Holcomb. On Friday, Rokita political strategist Tim Edson told HPI, "Rep. Rokita is strongly considering challenging Joe Donnelly and is making preparations to hit the ground running if he decides to launch a Senate bid. He is receiving a lot of encouragement to challenge Donnelly from Hoosiers across the state whom he has known for years.

  • Rokita Senate bid coming? Gipper & Tip; shooting at the HIP
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Rokita appears to be moving toward Senate run: Here are your Friday power lunch talking points: The telltales appear to be pointing to U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita joining U.S. Rep. Luke Messer in the 2018 U.S. Senate race. We’ve asked Rokita’s office for a statement, and one is said to be forthcoming, though it is cloaked in mystery at this writing. Our Republican sources tell us Rokita is scheduling Lincoln dinner appearances in Messer’s 6th CD. And newly elected county GOP chairs got a friendly congrats last weekend from the Draft Rokita for Senate Facebook page.

  • HPI Interview: Messer talks Senate race, repeal, Trump
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    SHELBYVILLE – About the time House Republicans were releasing the long awaited Obamacare repeal/replace plan, the fifth-ranking Republican joined Howey Politics for a beer at the Riverfront Brewery in the heart of the conservative 6th CD. U.S. Rep. Luke Messer didn’t have a recent town hall during the last recess, but he consistently talked about the attitudes and perceptions of 6th CD constituents, and there is no doubt in his mind that they are firmly in President Trump’s corner. “Back home, people are excited by Trump’s leadership, they’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and they are waiting to see the results from his promises,” Messer said. While he has some concerns about Trump’s rhetoric and wants to answers to the Kremlin ties to the Trump campaign, Messer is preparing to latch his political career through the prism of Trump. By May, he is expected to announce he will challenge U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly.
  • HPI Analysis: Obamacare repeal via the 2nd, 6th CD prism

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – When it comes to the long-awaited Republican repeal and replace of Obamacare, my stare is transfixed on two Hoosier environs, the 2nd and 6th congressional districts. Up in the 2nd, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski seemed to exult in the imminent repeal of Obamacare. “We’re doing exactly what we said we would do,” Walorski told the South Bend Tribune. “It’s what people have been asking for.” And from the Indiana perspective, she is right. Obamacare has never been popular here and President Trump’s vow to repeal and replace it with something “terrific” that will provide “good coverage at much less cost” and “a much better healthcare plan at much less money” resonated with voters here in 2016 in emphatic fashion.
        

  • Gov. Holcomb resists raiding Rainy Day Fund for roads
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    WEST LAFAYETTE - Gov. Eric Holcomb and Purdue President Mitch Daniels made one of their first public joint appearances at the Purdue Road School on Wednesday, with both focused on infrastructure funding. Holcomb served as a deputy chief of staff under Gov. Daniels, before Daniels appointed him to head the Indiana Republican Party. Holcomb called for the need for a long-term road funding program, similar to Daniels Major Moves program which he often touted as a “fully-funded 10 year road plan” that was forged in 2006. It was funded by the $3.8 billion Indiana Toll Road Lease. “We’re talking about a 20-year plan, and it’s more than a $20 billion question,” Holcomb said, who is pushing a 10 cent a gallon gasoline tax, as well as an increase in the diesel tax. He is finding resistance in the Indiana Senate, which takes up HB1002 in the coming weeks. “I am not one who wants to raid our rainy day fund for a one-time high and jeopardize our AAA credit rating,” Holcomb said. “I’m not one who wants to borrow and bond, and simply tax someone else in the future.”
  • Pence, McIntosh split; IN delegation studies; Twitter trolls
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The 6th CD Obamacare repeal/replace conundrum: It was fascinating to watch the Indiana 6th CD caucus parse and position on the House Republican American Care Act. There was Vice President Mike Pence, who declared “This is the plan,” though conceding that it faces a “very open process on Capitol Hill.” Pence’s friend and CD predecessor, Club for Growth’s David McIntosh who represented the old 2nd CD, panned the plan, saying, “If this warmed-over substitute for government-run health care remains unchanged, the Club for Growth will key vote against it.” McIntosh added: “Republicans should be offering a full and immediate repeal of Obamacare’s taxes, regulations, and mandates, an end to the Medicaid expansion, and inclusion of free-market reforms, like interstate competition.” And Pence’s successor, U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, told Howey Politics on Monday that he believes there will be Republican consensus, saying, “There is a legitimate debate within the Republican Party and our caucus about which way is best. But I think there is consensus we’ll be on the same page and pass a repeal that meets the four principles I described.”

  • Messer rolls with Trump; ACA markers; a pre-emptive nuke strike
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Shelbyville

    1. Messer rolling with President Trump: Here are your talking points prior to your Tuesday power lunch. HPI spent 90 minutes drinking a beer with U.S. Rep. Luke Messer at the Riverfront on Monday. He’s willing to roll with some of President Trump’s “unconventional” tactics for one good reason: His constituents in the 6th CD like what they’re seeing, even if it’s disruptive. “People are telling me they like what they see and hear,” Messer reports. “They are giving him the benefit of the doubt.”

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  • Indiana Senate resurrects appointed school chief bill
    “Governors and other state leaders of both major political parties have publicly supported the concept of an appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction for decades. I believe now is the time to make it happen. The changes amended into the bill today will help take politics out of education and ensure Indiana continues to have an education leader with experience, demonstrated leadership skills, and expertise in the field of education.” - Indiana Senate President David Long, after the Senate Rules Committee significantly amended version of House Bill 1005, which would provide for a governor-appointed secretary of education starting in 2025. The bill would require residency for two years, an advanced degree and is licensed or employed as a teacher, principal or superintendent at the time of taking office. Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane criticized the move, saying, “Today the Republican supermajority in the Senate used their unchecked power to resurrect a measure that would effectively disenfranchise Hoosier voters in choosing their education leader. Over half of our state budget is dedicated to K-12 education, and Hoosiers should have their voices heard at the ballot box when it comes to education policy in the state of Indiana.”
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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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