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. Mr. Trump paid $38 million dollars even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million dollars, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes and this illegally published return proves just that. Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns. The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the President will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans."

Here’s NBC’s First Take’s take this morning: The Republicans’ health-care overhaul efforts are unraveling. President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have a big problem on their hands. There’s a reason why the White House is now falling back on the argument that if the House GOP plan doesn’t pass, repealing and replacing Obamacare might never happen. "This is it,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said yesterday.

2. The Graham health care strategy

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, said that President Trump is working “really working hard,” adding that “he was willing to go bowling with the Freedom Caucus. That shows you how much he wants a bill. I don't think I could have done that.” But the South Carolina Republican is skeptical the GOP can prevail. His suggestion: Allow the Affordable Care Act to fall apart and force Democrats to help pick up the pieces. “Here’s what I would tell the president: If you can't get a better deal and if you can’t protect that 62-year-old worker in Greenville from having dramatic premium increases because Democrats won't work with you and you can't get the Republican party on board, stop, take a time-out, let it collapse,” Graham said. “Then turn to the Democrats and say this was the system you created. It has collapsed, now help me replace it. That’s what I would do."

What is absolutely stunning is that instead of spending the last seven years evolving Obamacare, Republicans dug in, criticized, cast 50 votes for repeal, and then when given the chance to replace/repeal, they are exposed as vapid and divided. Graham may be on to something here. This type of social engineering that impacts hundreds of millions of Americans and one-sixth of the economy requires bipartisan work and the kind of deal making that President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill were so good at.

3. The GOP governor firewall

The national media is picking up on a point we made yesterday, which is that Republican governors are digging in against the $880 billion Medicaid cuts, including Gov. Eric Holcomb. He’s being joined by Phil Scott of Vermont, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Bruce Rauner of Illinois and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas. Vice President Pence has long said the states are innovators and these GOP governors are sending a powerful message.

4. Senate ponders HB1002

At the Statehouse, all eyes are on the Indiana Senate to see how HB1002 evolves. NWI Times reporter Dan Carden reports that Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Chairman Brandt Hershman said he's not anticipating his committee will make major changes next week to the core of what he described as a "thoughtful" House road funding proposal. And Hershman joins Gov. Holcomb in that he’s not a big fan of tolling, though tolling added lanes "is a bit of a different story." Interesting.

5. The Crean slips to the bottom

IU’s men’s basketball season ended with a discordant thud last night, losing an NIT game to Georgia Tech on the road, perhaps fearing a scantly filled Assembly Hall. As an alum, I’ve long said I hate paying coaches not to coach. For that reason, Coach Tom Crean should probably get another year to get things back on track. His buyout falls to $1 million in July. That is, of course, unless Crean takes a job elsewhere (psssst, coach, good idea) or A.D. Fred Glass has a shot at landing a top tier coach from Wichita State or Creighton or the Boston Celtics (which ain’t gonna happen). It’s been 16 years since a Final Four appearance and 30 years since a national title. 
 
Enjoy your hump day, folks. It’s the Atomic!