An image
Login | Subscribe
Friday, July 3, 2020
An image
An image
  • INDIANAPOLIS  — Early on in “The Man with Two Brains,” Steve Martin’s character needs guidance. He stares up at a gilded portrait of his recently deceased wife, begging her for a sign. Amazingly, the portrait detaches from the wall and begins spinning, slowly at first, then faster, as a woman’s voice wails a definitive “NO!” over and over. The ground rumbles, light bulbs explode, and the plaster behind the painting cracks. Smoke appears. The spinning grows faster, and the voice louder and louder. “Just any kind of sign,” Steve Martin says, seeming totally unfazed by the bizarre and horrifying display. “I’ll be on the lookout for it. In the meantime, I’m going to put you in the closet.”  We appear to be witnessing a similar scene here in Indiana, as some in our state legislature appear unresponsive to the signs right in front of them. Earlier this month, the Legislative Council met to assign interim study topics. These study committees present an opportunity to reach clarity and consensus on where public policy is falling short and what can be done to improve it, or to revisit priority topics that could not be fully addressed in the context of the short session. This year’s selection of study topics has such glaring omissions, it almost seems as though there exists a willful refusal to acknowledge the data. Indiana’s abysmal preterm birth, infant mortality, and maternal mortality rates deserve attention. In fact, they have been a priority item on Gov. Holcomb’s agenda for years. They have sparked at least some legislative attention to how and where pregnant women receive health care and, more recently, to the workplace experiences of pregnant women. 

  • INDIANAPOLIS  —  It is perhaps unsurprising that John Krasinski’s brand new show, “Some Good News,” has risen in popularity with the same turbocharged upward trajectory as COVID-19 cases and unemployment filings. After all, at a time when day-to-day life seems filled with news generally ranging from devastating to disappointing, tuning in to watch police cars line the streets in a show of support for hospital workers, the original cast of “Hamilton” sing together on Zoom to soften the blow of someone’s long-awaited trip to the theater being canceled, or a neighborhood lineup to cheer a teenager’s recovery from cancer reminds us that humans can and do rise to meet moments of devastation and disappointment with incredible compassion. There are many extraordinary examples of communities coming together to recognize and assuage the impact of the sacrifices and uncertainty that challenge us during this difficult time. Perhaps even more inspiring are what in ordinary times are routine acts of going to work in hospitals, grocery stores, childcare facilities, distribution centers, and other institutions that have always been critical but now are actively proclaimed essential.
  • INDIANAPOLIS  — It’s inevitable.  Flu season comes around, and so do the standard recommendations: Wash your hands, and stay home if you develop symptoms. This year, health officials are doubling down on this advice as coronavirus cases emerge in the United States, including here in Indiana. That advice is much easier to follow if you have paid sick days. The United States is an outlier when it comes to paid leave. Nationally, policymakers have set no baseline standards for what employers should offer. And while some employers recognize that it is not to their benefit for sick employees to come to work for a variety of reasons – including that they are less productive and could infect fellow employees and clients – far too many still do not. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data (2019), about one in four workers nationally, and as many as one in three workers in Indiana, do not earn paid sick days. Digging deeper, the statistics on who does and does not earn paid sick days becomes even more problematic. Fewer than half of workers in the lowest wage quartile – often, the people who care for children and the elderly, prepare food, or handle transactions at a cash register – lack the ability to earn paid sick days. When workers lack paid sick days, they are far more likely to go to work sick. In one Center for Disease Control study, nearly 60% of workers who prepare food reported going to work sick.
  • INDIANAPOLIS  — Parenting is full of memorable experiences: Your child’s first step, your child’s first words, the first time your child says, “I love you.” These are the moments that make all the hardships worth it, the things you dream about when you decide to become a parent. But another glorious parenting experience, one that you won’t see in any Hallmark-type show but one that many parents know too well, is the day you make your last childcare payment.  For many families in Indiana, childcare rivals housing for the top budget drainer. According to the Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee dashboard, the parents of a preschooler in Indiana can expect to pay over $8,000 per year for high-quality childcare. Parents of infants pay even more, close to $12,000!  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers affordable childcare to be care that consumes no more than 7% of a household’s income. By that definition, the parents of an infant in Indiana would need to bring in $171,429 to “afford” high-quality care. Few households in Indiana meet that bar (around 8%, if we want to be more precise), especially early in their working lives, when, of course, they are more likely to have young children. 
  • INDIANAPOLIS — When I first met Aliyah, we commiserated about the transition to being a mother of two children. “I’m up all night with him,” she said, indicating the adorable, swaddled newborn lying beside me on the couch before turning to point at the four-year-old zipping around the room, “and then he gets up every morning at six, so I’m up with him in the morning.”  Motherhood is miraculous. It’s also not for the faint of heart. Neither is pregnancy. From the inappropriately named “morning” sickness that can strike at all hours and make it difficult to hold down food, to dizzy spells, to swollen ankles, to an alarmingly increasing chance of maternal death, pregnancy carries serious consequences and risks for women who endure it. As a state and as a nation, we have rightly turned our attention to policies that mitigate those risks. Gov. Holcomb and his team have prioritized reductions in maternal and infant mortality. This means paying more attention to how women, especially women of color, and their babies are treated. While it is great to see conversations about access to and the quality of health care women receive while pregnant, we are neglecting an important driver of poor health outcomes for pregnant women and their babies: Work.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – I thought the name rang a bell. Judge Kavanaugh wrote the decision in PHH Corp. v. CFPB, declaring the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) unconstitutional, a decision later reversed by the full D.C. Court of Appeals. Congress established the CFPB in the wake of the financial crisis to hold banks and other financial service providers accountable to American consumers, and it serves as both a rule-making body and enforcement agency.  Now that it has returned over $12 billion to student loan borrowers, homeowners, and credit card holders in its short lifetime, it has a number of enemies. Judge Kavanaugh appears to be among them. Following his nomination to the Supreme Court, I went back to read his decision. Kavanaugh is certainly no fan of the consumer watchdog agency, and his assertions about the agency should give us pause. Arguing that the CFPB’s power was “massive in scope,” Kavanaugh went on to argue that the director “possesses more unilateral authority – that is, authority to take action on one’s own, subject to no check – than…any other officer in any of the three branches of the U.S. Government, other than the President.” This is an ironic – and almost laughable – statement in the context of Kavanaugh’s exercise of judicial authority to overturn a CFPB enforcement action. 
  • INDIANAPOLIS –  It’s about time. 

    On July 11, the U.S. Senate Committee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy held a landmark hearing on paid family leave. This hearing was long overdue and extremely critical to working families’ health and economic security. The U.S. is one of the only developed countries that does not offer some form of paid leave for family caregiving or serious illness, and just 15% of working people in the U.S. have paid family leave through their employer. Here in Indiana, only 37% of working people have access to and can afford the unpaid leave provided under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.  This means that nearly one in four women in the United States return to their cubicles, factory floors, or storefronts within two weeks of giving birth. It means that seriously ill children are left alone in hospital beds while their parents feel compelled to remain at their desks or cash registers.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – We all want financial services that propel us toward our goals – a home, an education, a small business, a dignified retirement. But in today’s increasingly complex financial marketplaces, some companies exploit consumers, often denying their victims the opportunity to reach those goals, or even sending them backwards. Abuse and deception in financial marketplaces affects whole communities, not just individuals, and it should not take an advanced degree in finance to avoid the pitfalls, so it makes sense for consumers to have a watchdog. And they did, until recently. From 2011-2017, Hoosiers could depend on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Established in the wake of our still-recent financial collapse, the CFPB went after the banks, student loan servicers, debt collectors and others who took advantage of consumers. It recovered about $12 billion for consumers in principal reductions, cancelled debts or monetary compensation against unfair or deceptive lenders.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – In April, we learned that three Indiana localities have the dubious distinction of being in the top 20 U.S. cities with the highest eviction rates. The newly established Eviction Lab, spearheaded by “Evicted” author and researcher Matthew Desmond, tells us that Fort Wayne (13th), Indianapolis (14th) and South Bend (18th) see people pushed out of housing at higher rates than most cities. In Indianapolis, that equates to more than 30 households evicted per day. These statistics shine a spotlight on Indiana’s housing crisis and bust the myth of the Midwest’s affordability, at least for low-income families. Forty-two percent of renter households in Indiana are cost-burdened, defined as spending 30% or more of gross income on rent and utilities. Rent-burdened households are more likely to be evicted, have less to spend on other basic needs like food and medical care, and more frequently must rely on food assistance and other safety net programs. On the flip side, stable housing has a host of benefits, especially for children, who are less likely to be placed in foster care and switch schools less often.
  • INDIANAPOLIS  – On Sept. 14 last year, I eagerly awaited the release of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data. All summer, I had been researching the gender wage gap and looked forward to putting the finishing touches on the Institute’s report, “Wages, Wealth, & Poverty: Where Hoosier Women Stand and Ways our State Can Close the Gaps.”  My initial calculations that day came as a shock. Even as the nation saw a small narrowing of the gender wage gap, Indiana’s gap widened two percentage points from 24 to 26%, an annual difference of $12,717 between the median full-time male and female workers.  Attention to Indiana’s pay gap and the many high-profile “me too” announcements occurring around the same time led me to think that the 2018 legislative session might bring some positive policy changes for working women. And sadly, it didn’t – but not for lack of good bills.  A substantial portion of the gender wage gap cannot be explained away by occupation, experience, or education. Researchers suggest this reflects pay discrimination, and other states have taken steps to provide women with the tools to challenge these disparities. Retiring Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, once again filed a bill to help remedy pay discrimination by strengthening Indiana’s weak equal pay law. 
  • INDIANAPOLIS  – Despite a new poll showing that nearly nine in 10 Hoosiers want payday loan reform, the General Assembly had been pushing forward with new a predatory loan product. When the Indiana Institute for Working Families set its 2018 legislative agenda, we focused on modest and achievable policy solutions that would right the ship for Hoosier families who are underwater financially: Make sure pregnant women in physically-demanding jobs can continue to work safely, because many lack sick days or family leave. Take small steps to fix problems with our nutrition assistance and TANF programs. Get more kids into prekindergarten classrooms and adults into educational programs that lead to higher-paying jobs. Many of the bills we hoped to see advance never received a hearing have died. And Instead, there’s momentum on a different “solution” for struggling working families: bigger, longer payday loans. Indiana is one of several states that crafted a payday loan law in the early 2000s. Payday lenders were given a limited exemption from our criminal loansharking law to make two-week loans under the premise that these loans would be expensive to make due to their short-term, one-time nature. However, research is now clear: these loans, which top out at 391% APR, are almost never a two-week, emergencies-only deal.

1
Looking for something older? Try our archive search
An image
  • Holcomb delays reopening; says COVID 'on the prowl'
    “Nationwide, collectively, cases are at a peak level. We have to accept the fact that this virus is on the prowl and it’s moving, even within our borders. We are living on virus time, so to speak.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, announcing a shift in the reopening of Indiana's economy during the pandemic, which has surged to 52,000 new cases on Wednesday. He said that Indiana has moved to "stage 4.5" after initially signaling a full reopening by July 4. The restrictions remain until at least July 17, just a few weeks from the scheduled reopening of state schools, universities and fall sports, Indiana cases have remained relatively flat compared to 36 other states, but new hotspots in Evansville and the Lafayettes have joined Elkhart County. Holcomb and Indiana Health Commissioner Kristina Box urged Hoosiers to wear face masks in public, but did not make it mandatory.
An image
  • 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?”
An image
HPI Video Feed
An image
An image




The HPI Breaking News App
is now available for iOS & Android!










An image
Home | Login | Subscribe | About | Contact
© 2020 Howey Politics, All Rights Reserved • Software © 1998 - 2020 1up!