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Wednesday, July 26, 2017
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Vice Presidents Mike Pence and Dan Quayle greet each other during the presidential inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20.
Vice Presidents Mike Pence and Dan Quayle greet each other during the presidential inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20.
Monday, July 24, 2017 2:57 PM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s been 53 weeks since Mike Pence bolted from a tortured gubernatorial reelection bid in Indiana and ascended to the national stage as Donald Trump’s running mate. It was an epic roll of the political dice that has now positioned himself for the presidency. We know that after Trump and key operatives like Jared Kushner signaled Pence as the veep selection, Trump wavered, leaving Pence on a limb for about 24 hours before he tweeted out the confirmation on July 15, 2016. Hours later Gov. Pence withdrew from the Indiana ticket with just minutes to spare.
    
We don’t know much about what was going through the governor’s mind during this sequence because Pence ignores the Indiana media. He kept the Indiana Republican National Convention delegation at arm’s length, didn’t appear at the delegation hotel, and made a 20-minute appearance at a country club the day of his acceptance speech in a Cleveland suburb.
    
While Pence has been back to Indiana for several fundraisers during the presidential campaign and lately for his new leadership PAC, and will address the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition on Aug. 11, almost all Hoosier press accounts feature a line like this: “The Pence campaign did not return phone calls.” Or the “vice president and his spokesman declined comment.”
    
The easy comparison is with Vice President Dan Quayle, who gave frequent access to Indiana media during his four years in that office. The big difference is that Quayle worked for President George H.W. Bush, and Pence serves under President Trump.
    
Yuuuuuge difference.
    
Here’s the take from a Republican insider on why Pence is out of reach: “He can’t afford to be associated in any way with anything critical of Trump to any degree. There is a fair chance he could become president, but more importantly, he needs – and we need – him to be able to quietly keep the man stable. To do that, he needs to stay away from anybody not a cheerleader. And he can’t be seen by Trump as a potential rival.”
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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    KOKOMO – There was President Trump, author of the “Art of the Deal,” dining with Vice President Mike Pence and Republican senators at the White House Monday night. He complained about the grind of the health care reforms, reaffirming his winter quote that “no one knew how tough” such a process could be. He trashed Sen. Rand Paul for his opposition. Pence had spent the previous weekend arm twisting 49 of the nation’s stone-faced governors in Providence (Gov. Eric Holcomb wasn’t there) on the Senate bill, simultaneously discrediting Congressional Budget Office estimates and using other CBO data to make his case. The governors were presented with an Avalere Health study that revealed Indiana’s Medicaid program would lose $4.9 billion in the next nine years, and $36.5 billion - or 32 percent - by 2036. And the Wall Street Journal reported on a CBO estimate of the Senate bill impacts: 32 million Americans would lose coverage, and while the federal deficit would decrease $473 billion, insurance premiums would double by 2026. Saturday night, Pence would intone with one of his “let me be clear” intros that is often followed by fallacy: “We’re on the verge of a historic accomplishment here in our nation’s capital. Because in the coming days, President Trump, working with the Congress that you helped elect, is going to keep our promise to the American people, and we are going to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO – Single payer health care is on its way, as inevitable as the rising sun. Through the cumulative effects of Democratic scheming, Republican incompetence and the ignorance of the American people, we stand on the brink of the final dismemberment of the greatest health care system in the world. Soon we will enter a world of rationed medical care, medical treatment by committee and true equality of health care, where the only equality of care will be that no one will receive quality care. Call me a pessimist, but I have seen this train wreck coming for several years, at least since 1993. Since that time, health care has become an effective wedge issue for both political parties. Much as the issue of abortion has been used for political purposes since Roe v. Wade, access to universal affordable health care has become the football of choice for the game of divide and conquer played by Republicans and Democrats alike. Although the issue of socialized medicine dates back many decades, its latest incarnation began in earnest with the creation of the Clinton Health Care Task Force, in 1993. After campaigning for the need for universal health care during the 1992 presidential election, newly elected President Bill Clinton acted quickly in January, 1993, to appoint his wife Hillary to chair a task force to design a plan for universal care. Conservatives, Libertarians and the health care industry banded together to launch an all-out attack on Clinton’s plan. 
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND –  For Democrats to win control of the House next year – possible, though not yet probable – they must upset some Republicans entrenched in “safe” seats, such as Rep. Jackie Walorski in Indiana’s 2nd District. Walorski is targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But so are many other Republican incumbents, most of them in districts in which they appear to be more vulnerable than Walorski. She is regarded as “safe” in most national evaluations. And why not? She won a third term in 2016 by nearly 62,000 votes, carrying nine of the 10 counties in the district and just barely losing in St. Joseph County, supposed bastion of Democratic strength. Walorski, however, is a target because of other past elections. She lost in her first race for Congress in 2010 to Joe Donnelly, who then was the incumbent congressman, and won in a squeaker for a first term in 2012 in a race with Brendan Mullen. Polls showed high negative perceptions of her back then.
  • By RICH JAMES
    MERRILLVILLE – It’s becoming clear that President Donald Trump doesn’t like former President Barack Obama. It’s not a political thing. It’s personal. And it’s driving Trump – and to a lesser extent, Vice President Mike Pence – up a wall. And, yes, the springboard is the Affordable Care Act, which is better known as Obamacare. I think it’s a jealousy thing. Obama twice won the popular vote while Trump didn’t in his one try. Trump started the birther movement, contending Obama wasn’t born in the United States. And Trump never let go of the issue. And Trump was offended when Obama said he wasn’t mentally fit to be president. And virtually anytime something goes wrong, Trump blames it on Obama. What really eats at Trump is Obamacare. The repeal and replace of Obamacare was at the heart of Trump’s campaign. I’m not terribly sure why, given what people are saying today. Last November, just before being elected, Trump said, “My poll numbers are going through the roof. Part (of the reason) is Obamacare.”
  • By LEE HAMILTON
    BLOOMINGTON – A lot of people want what I do from the media and feel they’re not getting it: More facts and fewer opinions; more investigative reporters and fewer pundits; more substance and less fluff; more policy exploration and less politics.  I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to journalism, I’m a traditionalist. Old-fashioned, even. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that even while confidence in the media drops to new lows and Time magazine feels moved to wonder “Is Truth Dead?” on its cover, huge numbers of Americans have come to believe the media is not as authoritative as it once was. Straightforward, responsible journalism is an indispensable public asset, a cornerstone of democratic life. This is threatened by the trends reshaping the media landscape. With less consensus around information and data, the cohesiveness of our society is diminished.
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  • Vice President Pence breaks tie; McCain returns and lectures
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie in the U.S. Senate on a procedural motion to take up the health care reforms shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday.  “There 50 yeas and 50 nays. The Senate being equally divided and the Vice president votes in the affirmative,” Pence intoned. The Republicans lost U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. U.S. Sen. Todd Young said, “Nearly everyone agrees that doing nothing is not an option. Insurers have fled the individual market and premiums continue to rise without any indication the law’s death spiral will stop. Ultimately, it is imperative that we fundamentally reform our healthcare system and my vote to proceed to debate allows us to begin that process. I will continue to work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to come up with a solution that provides long-term stability to our healthcare system and gives each and every Hoosier the opportunity to access quality and affordable insurance.”

  • Atomic: Senate health vote; Holcomb letter; McCain & Kernan
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Senate health reform vote this afternoon: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: At 12:45 p.m., Republican senators meet behind closed doors for their weekly lunch. You can bet that Vice President Mike Pence will be on hand to make the final pitch on a motion to proceed with a health care debate. There are three bills, the repeal-only bill, the Cassidy-Collins bill which contains the thrust of the Senate plan rejected, and the alternative Graham-Cassidy bill. They are expected to vote around 2:15 on the motion to proceed. U.S. Sen. Todd Young will vote to advance the mystery Senate Republican health reforms. “He will vote yes on the motion to proceed,” said spokesman Jay Kenworthy. Asked if Young had read the bill and studied last week’s Congressional Budget Office report which said that 32 million Americans will lose coverage under the main Senate GOP bill, Kenworthy responded, “Yes, he has read the bill.
  • Gov. Holcomb gauges health reform impacts in letter to Hoosiers

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Eric Holcomb has written a letter to the people of Indiana about the health care reforms that could be debated and voted on in the U.S. Senate. A vote could take place on Tuesday, but at this writing none of the senators even know what’s in the legislation. President Trump said on Monday at the White House that Senate Republicans "must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters of this country to repeal and replace."
    The Holcomb administration has been sitting on an analysis of potential Indiana impacts, but in his letter released Monday afternoon, the governor said that the evolving legislation is virtually impossible to accurately gauge. “Last week, we saw two separate publicly reported estimates about the impacts of Senate legislation that were $5 billion apart,” he said. “By tomorrow, there could be other reports with completely different numbers. As I write this, there are rumblings of a potential vote this week. The point is, no one yet knows what the final legislation will contain or whether there will even be agreement to bring a bill to a vote at all.”


  • Atomic: Kushner testimony; pardons & firings; 'imaginable' war
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Kushner’s memo and coming clean: Here are your week’s initial power lunch talking points. As this is written, presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner is testifying behind closed doors, but not under oath, before Senate Intelligence Committee that includes U.S. Sen. Todd Young. There are two precursors to this. The first is a Wall Street Journal editorial last week in which the Trump White House was urged to come clean. “Even Donald Trump might agree that a major reason he won the 2016 election is because voters couldn’t abide Hillary Clinton’s legacy of scandal, deception and stonewalling,” the WSJ editorial began. “Yet on the story of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump and his family are repeating the mistakes that doomed Mrs. Clinton. Don’t you get it, guys? Special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating the Russia story. Everything that is potentially damaging to the Trumps will come out, one way or another. Everything. Mr. (Ty) Cobb and his team should tell every Trump family member, campaign operative and White House aide to disclose every detail that might be relevant to the Russian investigations. That means every meeting with any Russian or any American with Russian business ties. Every phone call or email. And every Trump business relationship with Russians going back years. This should include every relevant part of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, which the President will resist but Mr. Mueller is sure to seek anyway. Then release it all to the public.”

  • Atomic: Target Mueller; Sessions fallout; Murray v. Sen. Grooms
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. A constitutional clash brews: Here are your Friday power lunch talking points: As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation begins to peel back the onion on the Trump business empire, we are now witnessing the beginnings of what could be an epic constitutional crisis. President Trump’s attorneys are scouring members of the Mueller task force, with Kellyanne Conway noting on Fox News this morning that some had donated to the Hillary Clinton campaign and alleged other “conflicts of interest.” Trump is asking his legal team about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself. The fact that he is even asking raises the prospect that he really has something to hide. Otherwise, why ask? This is the first modern president who didn’t release his tax returns. We know that Mueller is now probing “money laundering” of campaign manager Paul Manafort.

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  • Messer signals U.S. Senate candidacy on Facebook
    “We’re in! See you at the picnic on Aug. 12.” - U.S. Rep. Luke Messer on Facebook at noon Wednesday, unveiling a new U.S. Senate campaign logo. The campaign also launched a “I Like Luke” website at www.lukemesser.com which is now signing up campaign volunteers. He is expected to make a broader pitch at his annual picnic on Aug. 12 near Shelbyville. He joins Terry Henderson, Andrew Takami and Mark Hurt as announced candidates. U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita is expected to enter the race soon. Messer campaign finance chairman Greg Pence had stated in an email obtained by Howey Politics Indiana that there would be “big news” was on tap today. “Stay tuned for some very exciting news from Congressman Messer tomorrow morning,” Pence said in an email sent on Tuesday. The day of your hard work and support has arrived. Exciting times are ahead!" U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s campaign manager Peter Hanscom reacted, saying, ”Joe Donnelly has been an independent voice for Indiana in the U.S. Senate. Hoosiers know that Joe will always put them first—not party bosses, corporate lobbyists, or special interests in Washington. Despite Congressman Messer's entry into the Republican primary, there’s still only one person on next year’s Senate ballot who is deeply connected to the Hoosier electorate and has a proven track record of working across party lines to deliver for Hoosiers, and it's Joe Donnelly.”
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  • Expect more White House chaos
     Months ago I speculated on how many Trump cabinet appointees would last a year. Today, President Trump is openly conspiring to terminate Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisory H.R. McMaster appear to be tenuous. So does Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. And new comm director Anthony Scaramucci is threatening a leak purge. All of this comes as “all options are on the table” with regard to North Korea, where the Chinese are now moving military assets at the border. And Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts last night? My reaction as an Eagle Scout is this: About the most unScout performance I’ve ever witnessed. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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