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Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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U.S. Sens. Mike Braun and Todd Young. (HPI Photos)
U.S. Sens. Mike Braun and Todd Young. (HPI Photos)
Sunday, July 5, 2020 5:31 PM
By PETE SEAT

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana’s two United States Senators, Mike Braun and Todd Young, whether they know it or not, are acolytes of Arthur Brooks. The former American Enterprise Institute president regularly implored conservatives to shun negativity and instead articulate an aspirational agenda worthy of public servants – and of the people they serve.

“The key concept,” Brooks once told the Washington Post, “is fighting for people instead of fighting against things. The latter is oppositional: If you fight against things, people will see you as the minority, because someone else is setting the agenda. To fight for people is to set the agenda, and that’s inherently majoritarian.”

Neither Braun nor Young is an angry Republican who only talks of “defending,” “protecting,” and “opposing.” Instead, they are out there ideating, proposing and advocating. Where some Republicans gave up on the ideas front at the federal level after Paul Ryan was crucified for attempting to bring solvency to entitlement programs, Braun and Young are courageous enough to actually present ideas and deal with whatever fallout may come.

Braun, through his acknowledgment of the challenge posed by climate and the necessity to honestly debate qualified immunity for law enforcement, is at the forefront of turning the tables in Washington. And Young, who also didn’t bide his time before turning to the job of legislating, teams up to offer bipartisan bills more often than Seinfeld ate cereal, while at the same time having the foresight to talk about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen before anyone else and more than anyone else.

Why is their willingness to stand out from the pack so important? “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change,” economist Milton Friedman was known to have said. “When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing politics, to keep them alive and available until the political impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”
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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    NASHVILLE, Ind. – Forty-one years ago as the U.S. reeled from oil shocks and long lines of cars just to get gas, the conservative tabloid New York Posteditorialized: "Independence Day, 1979 the American paradox is bleakly apparent. As a nation, we appear to have become steadily more dependent on forces seemingly beyond our control, losing confidence in our ability to master events, uncertain of our direction." Out on the left coast, the Los Angeles Times observed: "The United States is now a victim of a loss of nerve and will, wracked by indecision and groping for a glimpse of inspirational and innovative leadership." That was the precursor to what became known as President Jimmy Carter's "malaise speech." After disappearing for over a week, Carter told the nation in a televised address that July, "The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation."  That's where we are as a nation now. The invisible enemy is COVID-19, with cases up 82% from two weeks ago. The European Union, which has been reporting about 5,000 cases a day (compared to more than 50,000 in the U.S. on Wednesday) banned Americans from traveling there earlier this week. Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted 100,000 new cases a day as the nation is going “in the wrong direction.” A Pew Research Poll revealed that as the United States "simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted from 31% in April, during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, to just 12%. Anger and fear are widespread." Folks, this is due to an abject failure of leadership.
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND - Should Joe Biden get out of his basement and start having campaign events like President Trump? No. He should instead follow an established axiom for effective political campaigning. Meanwhile, another proven axiom was ignored by the Trump campaign in its disastrous Tulsa event. These two axioms from Politics 101 are: 1. If your opponent is acting like - and is widely perceived as - a self-destructive performer, let the opponent have the stage. Stay off it. Don’t interrupt the destructive act. 2. Don’t raise expectations too high, including for crowds. Better to have a small place that’s packed than to have a larger arena that’s only a third full. Exact numbers don’t matter, but photos of full or empty rows do. Biden is doing very well with virtual events and in the polls. A fundraiser online with Barack Obama brought in $7.6 million from 175,000 donors last week. He keeps climbing in polls nationally and in key battleground states. Trump is furious even with Fox News for its polls that show the president slipping. He is slipping, and not just on that ramp at West Point.

  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    INDIANAPOLIS – With 45,000 COVID-19 cases reported in just one day (compared to 5,000 in the European Union) this past week, it is becoming clear the United States is flunking its pandemic response in an epic fashion. Had Americans opted to wear face masks and continue social distancing, we might have avoided the hard choices that face our governor and mayors. And this is the first wave of COVID. The second wave has been forecast for later this fall and winter. Upwards of 75% of Hoosiers live in urban areas and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent stratospheric job loss portends to significant revenue loss for municipalities. That could mean tax and fee increases for those residents. An analysis by Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research finds that the economic shutdown caused by COVID-19 has deeply damaged the state’s economy. The study released on June 12 estimates state and local governments are now facing tax revenue losses for all local governments ranging from $240 million to $700 million in 2020. CBER anticipates tax revenues will rebound by the end of 2021 but remain beneath the 2019 levels by as little as $39 million and as much as $559 million. The state is expecting a $2 billion revenue shortfall by the time the biennial budget ends in June 2021. “Our scenarios reflect a state that will not fully recover from this pandemic before 2022, if not much longer,” said Michael Hicks, CBER director.
  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO – The most precious sentence in existence is the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. There is a reason that it is the first amendment contained in the Bill of Rights. For those of you who need a refresher course: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Our forefathers recognized these holy rights and made sure that they were enshrined for all eternity. Today, there are significant elements in our society who would deny us these rights and even those who would practice the worst form of abuse, which is self-censorship. By now it should be painfully evident to nearly everyone that the mass uprising upon the murder of George Floyd has been hijacked by a sinister group of anarchists who are bent on the destruction of every form of sane existence. The move to abolish the police, the creation of no-police zones in some major American cities, the wanton destruction of monuments and memorials, and the attempt to erase much of our American history is clearly not because a bad police officer used excessive force and killed a black man.  
  • BY: MARK SOUDER
    FORT WAYNE – Traditional media grassroots reporting has shriveled. Without large congregations of people, not to mention the waiting on results that often come days later, predicting results is on even more unstable ground. The Indiana Democrats, in hindsight, provided one of the most exciting convention contests in Indiana history. Former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel defeated Portage State Sen. Karen Tallian, 1057 to 1009. When 2,000 delegates vote and the margin is 48, it is a cliff-hanger by any definition. Had 25 voters switched, Tallian would have won. Some 17% of the delegates didn’t vote, which means around 300 of them. I’ve done many, many whip counts.  Nothing is more difficult than not knowing who is voting in a close contest.  Narrowly nominating Weinzapfel over Tallian did spare the Democrats the illogical slate of two of their top three candidates being from The Region. It should raise some concern among Republicans because it means that, albeit by only a switch of 25 voters, the Democrats may not be as focused on making strategic mistakes this year.  But the two Democratic candidates at least represented some chaos control the Republicans do not have. Attorney General Curtis Hill and former Congressman Todd Rokita have both won many elections and have somewhat defined support. Were this a primary, and barring millions being spent by any challenger (a huge assumption in this era), they would be the clear favorites.  But it isn’t a primary; it is a chaotic COVID “Kind-of-Convention.” I’ve tried to analyze Facebook endorsements and chatter for the four candidates that include Nate Harter and John Westercamp. This does not include all of them but was representative through June 24. It does shed light.

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  • Hale internal poll gives her 6% lead over Spartz

    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - Democratic 5th CD nominee Christina Hale released an internal GBAO poll showing her leading Republican State Sen. Victoria Spartz, 51-46%. Hale’s advantage is driven by her showing among women (59–38%) and voters with a college degree (also 59–38%). “Hoosiers in the 5th District want leaders who will get to work to solve the problems they deal with every day. While some in Washington are focused on taking away protections for pre-existing conditions, I’m committed to working across the aisle to make health care more affordable and accessible for every Hoosier family," Hale said. "We’re excited about our campaign’s growing momentum and will continue working to earn the support of 5th District voters.” Spartz campaign manager Mike Berg called the poll "fabricated," adding, "To believe this poll, you need to believe that President Trump is currently down 10 points in a district he carried by 12. For those counting at home, that would be an unbelievable 22-point swing."

  • HPI Analysis: Gauging the Trump, Pence reelect
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – The original sin of any credible political operator is to base campaign assumptions on the previous cycle. In the context of the American presidency (particularly from a Hoosier perspective), 2016 was a historic doozy. While some point to 1968 as the last year for such political volatility, the year 2016 that produced the Trump/Pence ticket was utterly unpredictable, prompting the frequent “Anything can happen” forecast from these quarters. The June 23, 2016, edition of Howey Politics Indiana  is worth revisiting: “This is the official posting of a tsunami watch for Indiana. With Donald Trump’s presidential campaign at best in transition and in all probability, in a mode of outright implosion, with Gov. Mike Pence locked in a dead heat along with sagging reelect and job approval numbers, and with Pence attaching his dinghy to the political equivalent of the RMS Titanic, the potential for severe down-ballot trauma for Hoosier GOP nominees is heightened.”
  • Horse Race: Hill lashes political fate to a flagging Trump
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — To hear Attorney General Curtis Hill tell it to Indiana Republican Party delegates last week, he and President Trump are two peas in a pod. “Look, I’m not perfect; no one is,” Hill said in his appeal to GOP delegates. “But like President Trump, I have faced accusations and investigations designed to destroy me politically. Like President Trump, I am a threat to Democrats and the radical liberal agenda. Both President Trump and I are wounded, some would say, and yes we are both warriors with battle scars, but I have grown stronger and wiser from every experience. Like the president, I have stood my ground and renewed my faith and continued to do my job.” Hill was coming off a 30-day Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission suspension the day before his delegate appeal in sanctions for his March 2018 sexual groping of a Democrat legislator and three female General Assembly aides. Trump has faced more than two dozen sexual harassment and assault accusations, including one from E. Jean Carroll, an advice columnist who was Miss Indiana University in 1964. She has alleged that Donald Trump raped her in a Manhattan luxury department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. Hill’s strategy to lash his political fate President Trump comes as the latter is sagging in the polls, trailing Democrat Joe Biden by 12% in a national Fox News Poll last week and 50-38% in a New York Times/Siena Poll released on Tuesday.
  • Horse Race: Weinzapfel wins Dem AG nod; GOP convention tonight
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — Former Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel won a 48-vote Democrat attorney general nomination Wednesday night and now has to wait three weeks before he knows whether he will face embattled Republican incumbent Curtis Hill or one of three challengers. Weinzapfel defeated State Sen. Karen Tallian, 1,057 to 1,009, with 86% of the delegates participating in this pandemic inspired virtual state convention. “I am so honored to receive this nomination,” said Weinzapfel, the former two-term Evansville mayor and state legislator. “These are unprecedented times and Hoosiers want an attorney general who will focus on families, our health and our rights. The pandemic is still actively attacking Hoosiers. In the midst of this pandemic, this attorney general is actively trying to take health care from Hoosier families by suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
  • HPI Analysis: Pence 'celebrates' COVID-19 victory as first wave hotspots emerge
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Last March 29, President Trump said at one of his coronavirus task force shows, “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.” But that is exactly what Trump and task force chair Mike Pence are saying and doing in their stewarding the United States through the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 1 million people, killing 118,000. Americans are tired of isolation. Trump was told his coronavirus “shows” were harming his torpid reelection chances, so he was champing at the bit to return to his MAGA rallies he uses to fuel his ego and display political momentum. Pence’s coronavirus task force has been shuttled off to the mothballs. Trump hasn’t spoken with Dr. Anthony Fauci in weeks. On Tuesday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Pence said there is no “second wave” and blamed the media. “In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown,” Pence writes.
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  • NFLPA official says if you want football, 'Wear a mask'
    “If you want football to start on time, wear a mask.” - NFLPA assistant executive director for external affairs George Atallah, to Sports Illustrated in a story about how the COVID-19 resurgence is putting the NFL season in jeopardy. Teams are to report to training camp within three weeks while the United States is reporting over 55,000 cases a day. Multiple NFL sources expected many positive COVID tests among the 1,900 NFL players.
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  • Trump answers Hannity question on what he'd do if elected to a 2nd term
    “Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that. But the word experience is a very important word. It’s a very important meaning. I never did this before - I never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington I think 17 times, all of the sudden, I’m the president of the United States. You know the story, I’m riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our first lady and I say, ‘This is great.’ But I didn’t know very many people in Washington, it wasn’t my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York. Now I know everybody. And I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes, like you know an idiot like Bolton, all he wanted to do is drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to kill people.” - President Trump, answering this question from Fox News' Sean Hannity at a Wisconsin town hall Thursday: “What’s at stake in this election as you compare and contrast, and what are your top priority items for a second term?”
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