By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. About those ‘fundamentals’ …

Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Vice President Mike Pence returned to the Detroit Economic Club (where in 2010 the one time fervent anti-Keynesian famously stressed the concept of free trade and eschewed government bailouts), blaming the news media for conveying economic uncertainty. "Despite the irresponsible rhetoric of many in the mainstream media, the American economy is strong, and the U.S. economic outlook remains strong  as well," Pence said. "Now, last week, despite some volatility in global markets, leading retailers also reported strong sales and earnings, and consumer spending posted its strongest reading since March." This comes in the face of a 20% decline in RV shipments and that yield-curve inversion on the bond market.

The Terre Haute Tribune-Star’s  Howard Greninger talked to Hoosier economists: On this inversion, Indiana State Prof. Robert Guell explained, “It is a relatively solid signal of an economic downturn as signals go. It hasn’t been wrong, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be wrong now.” And Purdue Prof. Larry DeBoer explained, “This is all a measure of confidence. It is weird, in a way, because sometimes the markets act as a yield curve inversion causes a recession, but all it is really is a read on what they [investors] are really thinking."  National Association for Business Economics reported that 74% of its members are forecasting a recession by the end of 2021.

Meanwhile the Trump administration is exploring a payroll tax cut to keep the economy rolling. After Trump’s economic team (Larry Kudlow, Pete Navarro) called for unbridled optimism on the Sunday talk circuit, Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway sought to allay fears: “The fact is, the fundamentals of our economy are very strong.” It echoes the late Sen. John McCain’s assertion in September 2008 … on the night before the Lehman Brothers collapse.

2. Rep. Bucshon’s town hall

U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon is doing town halls this week. His first came in Evansville Monday for 90 minutes. He was asked about his support of President Trump: “The reality is I don’t support him on everything. But, if you look at his agenda, it is a right of center conservative agenda, and that’s what I support as a congressman.”

3. Septuagenarian torch clutch

A national CNN Poll  shows Joe Biden leading with 29%, followed by Bernie Sanders at 15% and Elizabeth Warren at 14% (Mayor Buttigieg is a distant 5%). So the septuagenarians are leading the pack with the winner taking on the septuagenarian President Donald Trump. The concept of passing the torch to a new generation isn’t catching on.

4. Ag cross hair

On the agriculture front, Purdue Prof. Chris Hurt acknowledged President Trump’s trade war is impacting Hoosier farmers. “Agriculture is in the cross hair,” he said. “There is a lot of concern and discomfort among Indiana farmers. Farmers want access to the markets. President Trump has brought the trade issue to the forefront.” U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun are questioning a USDA crop report. “Given the unprecedented rains this spring, which brought flooding and soggy fields across the Midwest, and particularly in the Hoosier state, this latest estimate perplexes many farmers,” Young and Braun wrote in a Friday letter. Finally, a Purdue report reveals that  the value of top-quality farmland in Indiana has declined, continuing a five-year trend. The statewide average of the best cropland is $8,212 per acre, down more than 5%.

5. Dander rising

Respected Hoosier Ag Today  columnist Randy Truitt is taking the Trump administration to task. “Over my nearly 40 years as a journalist, I have seen a lot of political leaders say some really stupid things," Truitt writes. "This past week, however, may have been a new low.” Truitt explained, "First President Trump, who is in the White House in no small part because of the support of farmers, made fun of wheat producers and belittled wheat exports to Japan, 'They send thousands and thousands — millions — of cars. We send them wheat. Wheat. That’s not a good deal. And they don’t even want our wheat.' Like most Americans, I have become accustomed to his outlandish quotes and bold statements, but this one is just indefensible." As for USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue calling farmers "whiners," Truitt added, "This on the heels of a USDA report that many growers feel is grossly inaccurate and responsible for pushing market prices even lower. So if you, as a farmer, are feeling misunderstood, unappreciated, and disrespected, you have a right to be."

Thanks for reading folks. It's The Atomic!