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Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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Wednesday, January 23, 2019 11:14 AM

By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Buttigieg enters the presidential race

Here are your hump down power lunch talking points: This morning the cable pundits were grappling with the pronunciation of the name of the eighth Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Hoosiers tend to call him “Mayor Pete.” In a video announcing his exploratory committee, the 37-year-old Democrat, who is conjuring the pass-the-torch echoes of President John F. Kennedy, explained, "The reality is there's no going back, and there's no such thing as 'again' in the real world. We can't look for greatness in the past. Right now our country needs a fresh start.” He describes his as a “generation of school shootings” on track “to make less than our parents unless we do something different.”

Mayor Pete presents a vivid contrast to President Trump. He’s a Rhodes Scholar, volunteered for the Navy and served in the Afghanistan theater as an intelligence officer. “Good leadership brings out the best in us,” Buttigieg explained. On a week where the Washington Post put Trump’s lies and false, misleading statements at 8,158, the mayor said, “The show in Washington right now is exhausted. The corruption, the fighting, the lying have got to end. Good leadership brings out the best in us.” He ends the video saying, “We stand proud of our values. Let’s go show the world.”

2. Mayor Pete’s chances

Does Mayor Buttigieg, who could be the first gay president, have a ghost of a chance? Did Jimmy Carter in 1974, Bill Clinton in 1990, or Barack Obama in 2006? With two dozen or more candidates, many consider the 2020 Democratic nomination fight as wide open. The key will be when former vice president Joe Biden enters the race, and whether he can do what George W. Bush did in 1999 (make his nomination inevitable), or will Biden be consigned as a party elder in the dustbin (as what happened to Jeb Bush in 2015-16)? If Biden cannot create the aura of inevitability, and Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris or Beto O’Rourke fail to emerge with Obama-style momentum, then all bets are off. The nomination fight could be wide open. There is no doubt that Pete Buttigieg is a long-shot. Many see a better chance of him on the ticket if the nominee is a woman. But this is an era where … anything can happen.

3. Pence and MLK’s son

It wasn’t quite Sen. Lloyd Bentsen telling veep nominee Dan Quayle, “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” but when Vice President Mike Pence invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on CBS Face The Nation  Sunday in making the case for President Trump's border wall, you could almost feel a retort coming. It came from the civil right’s icon’s son at the National Action Network MLK Breakfast on Monday: “Whenever I get to this period, it always is reflective,” the younger King said. “This year is probably more reflective than ever because I wonder what my father would be thinking and asking … the vice president attempted to compare the president to Martin Luther King Jr. Now, Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder.  Martin Luther King Jr. would say love, not hate, will make America great.”

4. Mayoral candidates lining up

Tuesday was a busy one on the Indiana mayoral front, as Fort Wayne’s Tom Henry, Richmond’s Dave Snow, and Greenwood’s Mark Myers all announced reelection bids. Henry is seeking a fourth term, Snow a second and Myers a third. In Bloomington, Amanda Barge will challenge Mayor John Hamilton in the Democratic primary, and in Kokomo, United Way President Abbie Smith will seek the Democratic nomination after Mayor Greg Goodnight passed on a fourth term. Goodnight has denounced former cop Kevin Summers in his quest for the Democratic nomination. Smith presented a platform based largely on economic development, which was always a priority for the current mayor.

5. DCS reforms pass Indiana House

One of the big ticket items in the General Assembly passed a significant hurdle Tuesday, with HB1006 which reforms the troubled Department of Child Services passing the House 100-0. It is one of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s top priorities. It would ease caseloads for DCS workers as the Holcomb administration has vowed to pump just under $300 million into the agency tasked with protecting Hoosier children.

Thanks for reading, folks. It’s The Atomic!

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    INDIANAPOLIS – For two years, Republicans controlled the White House and both chambers in Congress. They wouldn’t pass funding for a concrete or steel border wall. In September 2017, USA Today asked every Republican whether they would fund what was then a $1.6 billion appropriation for the wall. Fewer than 25 percent of House and Senate Republicans were willing to stand up for the legislation. It found only 69 of 292 Republicans on Capitol Hill said they would vote for the wall.  President Trump has now partially closed the federal government over the wall. The showdown began in mid-December, with Democrats poised to retake the House. On Dec. 11 in a contentious Oval Office meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Trump said, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.” He vowed to “own the mantle.” On the day the shutdown began, Vice President Mike Pence met with Schumer, floating a compromise of $2.5 billion in border security funding, including money for a border fence. Schumer had no relationship with Pence (who has no relationships with any Capitol Hill Democrat) and didn’t trust that Pence was speaking for the president. It was canny sense, as Trump quickly cut Pence off at the knees. In the following weeks, that number was ratcheted up to $5.7 billion.

    SOUTH BEND – Impeachment is a dirty word. Not in the sense of coarse words in the way President Trump talks and in the way a new Democratic congresswoman talked about him, but in the sense of a word that many people don’t want to hear spoken in public. And for two entirely different reasons. President Trump and members of his unwavering base don’t want to hear impeachment spoken about in any serious way in Congress. Actually, the president uses the word himself in a scoffing way, belittling the possibility of impeachment as he rallies his base. It could become a new mantra. Like his: “No collusion. No collusion. No collusion.” A new presidential chant of choice could be: “No impeachment. No impeachment. No impeachment.” Impeachment also is a dirty word that Democratic leaders in the House don’t want to hear mentioned in public by their members. Not now. Not yet. Maybe not at all as President Trump completes what they hope will be his only term.
    BLOOMINGTON  – Looking back at 2018’s weather-related news, it seems clear that this was the year climate change became unavoidable. I don’t mean that the fires in California, coastal flooding in the Carolinas, and drought throughout the West were new evidence of climate change. Rather, they shifted the national mindset. They made climate change a political issue that cannot be avoided. The Earth’s climate changes all the time. But what we’re seeing today is different, the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather. Wet places are becoming wetter; dry places are growing dryer; where it was hot a generation ago, it’s hotter now; where it’s historically been cool, it’s growing warmer. The global impact of human activity — specifically, the burning of hydrocarbons — is shuffling the deck. And we’re only beginning to grasp the impact on our political and economic systems. Warmer overall temperatures, for instance, have lengthened the growing season across the U.S. by about two weeks compared to a century ago. But the impact on fruit and grain production isn’t just about the growing season. Plant diseases are more prevalent, and the insects that are vital to healthy agricultural systems are struggling. Insects that spread human diseases, like mosquitoes and ticks, are flourishing.
    MUNCIE – Manufacturing employment has enjoyed a long recovery since the darkest days of the Great Recession. As of late last year, we have a full 108,000 more factory jobs than in summer 2009, which marked the trough of the business cycle. This recovery eased some of the deep impacts of automation and trade that cost the United States and Indiana about one third of all factory jobs. Here in Indiana, from January 2000 through the start of the Great Recession, factory employment dropped some 126,600 workers. From the December 2007 through the end of the Great Recession in July 2009, factories shed a further 119,700 jobs. This employment loss was a full 36.8% of all factory jobs in Indiana. There is an interesting debate among economists about just what caused those factory job losses. The consensus appears that the majority of job losses in factories were due to productivity gains. However, much of the observed increase in productivity likely came from businesses responding to significant threat from foreign competition. It’s not clear how those job losses should be accounted for, but there are a few facts that bear on the discussion.  First, growth in transportation and logistics jobs has more than offset the losses in manufacturing, and so has growth in other sectors. International trade doesn’t cause a net loss of jobs, but changes the skills and location of jobs. Second, trade deficits and deals are not correlated with large factory job losses. The last two lengthy periods of factory job growth occurred in the years after NAFTA and following the Great Recession. These were two periods of growing trade deficits. However, the big factory job losses of the early 2000s occurred at a time of both rapid growth in our trade deficit and very rapid growth of factory productivity. 
    INDIANAPOLIS – He was very pale and dressed in shades of gray. His business card read A.G. Bell. No address or contact information. Only the name. His Scottish accent was filtered through a generous white beard. “Youngster,” he said. “I be disturbed by excessive ringing in me ears.” “Tinnitus,” I was quick to diagnose. “I have it. It’s a continuous hissing sound that’s always in the background. Comes with age.” “I not be thinking that,” Mr. Bell said. “It’s truly ringing of me telephone. Not continuous, but frequent and excessive.” “Your popularity?” I offered. “So many folks wanting to talk with you. It’s a good thing you don’t put your phone number on your business card. Nonetheless our numbers do get out. And they do get used by all sorts of people.” “Six times in a single hour!” he roared. “Not one of them a call from someone I knew or even one who knew me. All of them trying to get into me purse for things or purposes.” “Ah, yes,” I said knowing the correct diagnosis now. “Unsolicited solicitations. Folks trying to sign you up for more comprehensive health insurance, advanced home safety systems, better credit cards, and exceptional good causes.”
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  • HPI Analysis: Why there is alarm with Trump and Putin

    INDIANAPOLIS  — Let me tell you why this past week has been so jarring and so alarming when it comes to Presidents Trump and Vladimir Putin. But first, some context. I’m a Russophile. I majored in history at IU Bloomington and studied in the Russian East European Institute. When reporting for the Elkhart Truth, I covered a small Russian dissident community there with Georgi Vins. I still have the waterproof Bible he gave me (they used to tuck them into snow drifts when KGB agents appeared). In the mid-1980s, I attended a number of IU and Purdue seminars on the Soviet Union, and virtually no one was predicting the USSR’s collapse, which occurred in 1990. I’ve read most of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s books on the Soviets and their brutal gulags. I traveled to Moscow, Siberia and the Urals with Sen. Richard Lugar. I had my Moscow Grand Marriott hotel room ransacked by FSB agents while I attended the Moscow Carnegie seminar. I attended a face-to-face meeting between Lugar, Sam Nunn and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Foreign Ministry.
  • Atomic! Impeachment buzz; Pence offended; Buttigieg book
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Report fuels impeachment talk: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Washington and cable news are agog, abuzz and aflutter over a Buzzfeed report that President Trumpinstructed attorney/fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress: “The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress  through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.” Why is this explosive?  In 1974, President Nixon's first article of impeachment was on an obstruction of justice charge  in the U.S. House: “Approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States.” In 1998, the first article of impeachment against President Clinton included “efforts to influence the testimony of witnesses and to impede the discovery of evidence.” And on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobachar asked attorney general nominee William Barr this: “In your memo … you wrote on page 1 that a president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?" Barr responded, "Yes … Any person who persuades another …" So the impeachment buzz appears to be growing.

  • HPI Analysis: Holcomb defusing 2 issue hotpoints

    INDIANAPOLIS – If there is a ticking time bomb or two awaiting Gov. Eric Holcomb during this biennial budget session, it would be the teacher pay issue and his push for a hate crimes bill to land on his desk. During his third State of the State address Tuesday, Holcomb fully enjoined both issues. On the first, he won some praise from the super-minority Democrats for the administration’s resourcefulness in finding funds for a proposed 4% raise over the biennium. On the second, the small social conservative wing of the GOP sat on their hands when Holcomb said he would push for a hate crimes law, while the wider chamber erupted in applause. “It’s time for us to move off that list,” Holcomb said of Indiana being one of only five states without such a law. “I look forward to working with the General Assembly to achieve this goal so that our state law reflects what’s already in my administration’s employment policy.” The conservative wing of the GOP fears the elevation of LGBT protections in state code.

  • Horse Race: INDems mayoral bench passing on gov race

    INDIANAPOLIS  — The bench strength of the Indiana Democratic Party — its mayors — seem to be passing on the 2020 gubernatorial race. The latest was Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, whose bombshell announcement Monday he would not seek a fourth term led to a rejection of a 2020 challenge to Gov. Eric Holcomb. “I have no interest in running for governor,” Goodnight told HPI. He follows South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who announced he wouldn’t seek a third term and appears poised for a long-shot presidential run. Buttigieg will release his new book on Feb. 10. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott is seeking another term, and told HPI he’s only focused on a “normal municipal reelection.”
  • Horse Race: Hogsett posts $3.2 million

    INDIANAPOLIS - The Hogsett for Indianapolis campaign committee announced its 2018 annual fundraising filing Wednesday, reporting more than $1.1 million raised during the year with more than $3.2 million cash-on-hand ahead of the 2019 campaign cycle. The figures for last year continue a string of strong fundraising periods for Mayor Joe Hogsett’s reelection effort, and include contributions from more than 400 individual supporters and hundreds of low-dollar donors. For the period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, the Hogsett for Indianapolis campaign raised $1,105,529.68. At the close of the reporting period, cash-on-hand totaled $3,226,413.50. “While we are heartened at the continued level of direct support for Mayor Joe Hogsett’s reelection, it has been even more exciting to watch as grassroots energy builds behind this campaign,” said Heather K. Sager, campaign spokesperson. 
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  • Sen. Braun backs off call for full border wall
    “I listened to the Border Patrol, and they said that they do not need barriers in many places, but they’ve got to have them in some places to do their job. Wherever you’ve got to have a barrier because of the traffic and existing conditions that are there, it needs to be shored up, otherwise we’re promoting open borders.” - U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, speaking in Elkhart on Tuesday. Braun said it’s urgent a solution be found to the gridlock over President Donald Trump’s insistence on funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Braun backed Trump’s wall demand as he campaigned last year against U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, frequently telling Hoosiers that Mexico would pay for the wall. With the government shutdown now over 30 days long, the South Bend Tribune reported Braun seemed to soften his position, stating that the southern border doesn’t need a wall across all 1,900 miles.
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  • Mike, make us the nation that works

    Mr. Vice President, as our governor, you coined the phrase “Indiana: The State that Works.”  It's etched on state office buildings, we see it in basketball fieldhouses and even in New York City. You’re now vice president in a federal government that doesn’t work. It’s largely dysfunctional and has been closed down for a month. Some 800,000 federal employees (and 20,000 Hoosiers) have been furloughed or aren’t getting a paycheck. There are so many Hoosiers that loved that “State That Works” Mike Pence as opposed to the Shutdown Mike Pence.

    Our unemployment rate is 3.6%, thanks largely to you and Gov. Holcomb. We have a 64.9% labor force participation rate, an all-time record. There are currently 72,388 unfilled job postings, but last July it was 103,000 and as late as March 2017, it was 117,000. Hoosier farmers are telling me they’ve got a labor shortage. Brian Burton from the Indiana Manufacturers Association tells me that 45% of the Indiana workforce will retire in the next decade due to the Baby Boom. Gov. Holcomb calls it the “silver tsunami” and frets about declining birthrates and where Indiana companies will get tech workers, farm laborers, plumbers and electricians for the next generation.

    Immigrants come to America to reap the fruits of your amber waves of grain, and they tend to have big families. They also tend to be pro life, go to church, and value their families. On Saturday, President Trump proposed in an effort to end the federal government shutdown codifying protections for Dreamers - the kids who came here with their illegal immigrant parents, and have known no other country than the USA. But he wants to do it for just three years in exchange for $5.7 billion in border protection. This is a good start, but a half pregnant proposal. I'm all for border protections, whether they be steel slats or concrete, drones, more border patrol agents and other high-tech solutions. But why limit protections for Dreamers to three years? Why not give certainty to these 10,000 or so Hoosier Dreamers, who attend our schools and universities, serve in our National Guard, enlist in the U.S. armed forces, start businesses and raise families? Some of your most hard core supporters call this "amnesty," but this is a perversion of reality.

    And why is the Trump administration on course to limit legal immigration? According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in 2016, there were 1.2 million immigrants who became lawful permanent residents, or “green card holders” while 753,060 became naturalized citizens. In the first quarter of 2018, there was a 20% decline in green card holders. Every time a Hoosier congressman or woman attends a naturalization ceremony, they beam about the beauty of new citizens wanting to contribute and share the American  cornucopia. 

    Mr. Vice President, on Saturday you said, "There is no amnesty in the president's proposal. There is no pathway to citizenship in this proposal." We hope you reconsider. Get a deal done. Give certainty to Hoosier Dreamers, and our businessmen and farmers who are yearning for more workers. Start thinking about "America: The Nation that Works." - Brian A. Howey

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