LaPORTE  — While I’m “all in” with Mayor Pete and am solidly committed to his campaign, that doesn’t mean I can’t respect a good plan rolled out by one of his competitors. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan released on June 4th calling for a new “economic patriotism” hits the nail on the head and could give a good lesson to Hoosier politicians of all stripes as to a winning political message.
 
There’s a reason that Trump’s messaging turned counties like mine that had solidly supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 to red in 2016. I’m absolutely convinced that it was not the race-based appeals or the hard right messaging about immigrants. Voters in LaPorte County who -  like voters in around 200 other counties in this country that had voted for Barack Obama  -  didn’t instantly fall for racist appeals. Not LaPorte County. This was a county that had also elected an African-American countywide as county commissioner in 2010.

Nope. This had everything to do with Trump’s very effective messaging urging an “economic populism” against coastal elites that had negotiated treaties like NAFTA that had hollowed out communities in the industrial heartland. Hoosiers are tired of being “taken advantage of” by large, faceless, nameless corporations shifting jobs and opportunity overseas who seemingly have no “patriotic loyalty” to either Indiana or the USA. That message worked.

Enter Elizabeth Warren with her plan for “economic patriotism” that rightly rails against companies that wave the flag but have no loyalty or allegiance to America. Like Levi’s – an iconic American brand but which operates only 2% of its factories here. Or GE, which recently shut down a factory in Wisconsin and shipped the jobs to Canada. The list goes on and on and includes Carrier Corporation, which did the same to Hoosiers.
 
It’s time to shift policy so there’s more aggressive intervention on behalf of Hoosier workers rather than acting as if state government is simply a supplicant to big business. What about taxpayers capturing the upside of their investments if they result in profitable enterprises and realizing we better invest in quality of life and infrastructure if we’re ever going to create decent sustainable jobs?
 
A great example of Hoosiers being taken to the cleaners was profiled in a recent article in Deadspin that showcased the sucker-punch that Indiana Pacers’ billionaire owner landed on Indiana taxpayers. It is outrageous in a day and age when we supposedly can’t afford to pay for expanded pre-K in this state or fix crumbling streets and highways or do something about our rank as the #2 highest in the nation for child abuse that Pacers’ owner Herb Simon - as Deadspin put it “aka the billionaire developer who turned failing department stores into a failing downtown mall -will receive $295 million in immediate taxpayer cash to upgrade Bankers Life Fieldhouse plus a $12 million check every year for “technology upgrades” plus “25 years of $14.5 million annual operating subsidies – a total windfall in 2019 dollars of $600 million.”
 
Your read that right. As Deadspin put it, “getting elected officials to ladle public cash over to you in order to build a new stadium or arena is a well-established grift by now.” 

Only thing is some governmental entities around the country are saying no to this extortion routine. Why shouldn’t we expect the Simons - billionaires who have built a shopping mall empire around the world - to carry the load on this rather than threaten to leave the state with the Indiana Pacers? Same with other Hoosier companies that are more than willing to demand outrageous incentives rather than demonstrate a “Hoosier patriotism” that is much needed these days.
 
Why shouldn’t we be able to expect an RCI to build its call center here rather than in Mumbai? How about Eli Lilly repatriate some of those billions they are keeping offshore?

I humbly submit that demanding more from our largest and wealthiest Indiana-based corporations and individuals is good sound policy that will work for politicians on either side of the aisle.

While Trump hasn’t carried through on bringing some of these corporate scofflaws to heel as he pledged, his rhetoric about the “game being rigged” worked wonders. Can you imagine if we actually elected politicians who were committed to carrying through on demanding more from those who have benefited the most?

Elizabeth Warren is right. It’s time for a new “economic patriotism” that demands as much from our largest corporations and wealthiest individuals to do their “fair share” as from the little guy. We need these largest and most profitable Hoosier entities to help boost our economy and help retain and grow living-wage jobs right here in Indiana. 

Shaw Friedman is a longtime HPI contributor who practices law in LaPorte, Indiana.