Friday, July 14, 2017

It's Only July: 2018 Indiana U.S. Senate Election Making Headlines

It's been quite a week in the U.S. Senate Race for 2018.

Taking the bad news first (from the candidates' perspectives), the American Democracy Legal Fund has filed FEC complaints against Republican candidates Todd Rokita and Luke Messer because they continue to campaign for the office and have raised more than $5,000 and yet remain unannounced as candidates.  Both of those things would seem to violate federal campaign laws.

Rokita and Messer say the ADLF complaint is baseless and Rokita's campaign called it politically-motivated.

Messer and Rokita each have, on the positive side, sizable $2 million plus warchests according to Indy Politics to fire political bombs at each other prior to having the survivor face Joe Donnelly in the general election. It's going t be a nasty nasty primary.

On the Democratic side, Donnelly also got some bad press this week.

An AP report published on Thursday said that a company owned by Donnelly's brother and that the Senator had profited from had benefited from using labor at a plant in Mexico.  Donnelly, of course, has been a loud and vocal voice against companies sending jobs to Mexico such as Carrier and Rexnord.

The Donnelly campaign says that the Senator's family's company employs many Hoosiers and Americans and that he's still committed to making better trade deals such as renegotiating NAFTA.  It remains to be seen if this has any traction.

On the good news side, Donnelly has raised nearly $4 million for his reelection fight.  Of course, he's going to need a lot more than that.  Abdul-Hakim Shabazz also reported on his Indy Politics website that Donnelly is sporting a 53 percent approval rating.

We still have 10 months until the primary in this race, and it feels like it's already campaign season.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Indiana: A Heartless State?

Governor Eric Holcomb
Eric Holcomb signed off on an application to make Indiana one of the first states to require people to work as a condition of receiving Medicaid benefits.

The plan would not apply to all Hoosiers receiving Medicaid...only those who are not pregnant, under 60 years old, or not "medically frail" would be required to work, according to Maureen Groppe's report in USA Today.  Groppe says 59 percent of Hoosiers already on Medicaid work.

According to the USA Today report by Groppe, critics say that no many more people would qualify to work therefore numbers in the workforce won't rise by much.  Opponents say that this is just another barrier that could be used to interrupt or toss people from their coverage.

It does beg the question, for example, as Groppe does, what does "medically frail" mean?  For example, is someone who has cancer, for example, medically frail?  Could working make someone with heart disease more medically frail?  The article also mentions those with mental illness.

Hopefully, Holcomb will change his mind on this stupid and heartless idea.  We really should not expect people on Medicaid to work as a condition of their coverage.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trump Scandal of Hour Embroils Don Jr.

President Donald Trump
People ask me why I haven't been blogging on the President more, and, frankly, the only excuse is that I'd have to be a full time, 24/7/365 blogger to keep up.

That's right.  This administration's missteps come at you like a MLB pitcher's fastball to the cranium...every day.

The latest scandal from the administration that has given us more scandals than accomplishments is the Donald Trump, Jr. meeting with some nebulous Russian woman to receive damaging information on Hillary Clinton back in August of 2016.

You know the story by now, at first Trump Jr. denied the meeting occurred. Then he said it was a meeting about adoption. Now, after great work by the New York Times, Trump Jr. admitted that the meeting was to get promised damaging information on Clinton.  The New York Times now reports that Trump Jr. knew of Russian efforts to derail the Clinton campaign prior to the meeting.

The plot just keeps thickening.  Depending on how this all pans out, it could be that connection to put the whole picture together.

It's more lies and deception from an administration that seems to revel in it.

So, there, I wrote about it.  Now, I feel like I need a shower.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tribune/Sinclair Merger Could Change Indy TV News

Sinclair Broadcast Group is eyeing a merger with Tribune Media.

The nearly $4 billion deal would add another 42 stations to Sinclair's armada of stations including two stations here in Indianapolis.  Tribune-owned WXIN and WTTV or, as they are more commonly known Fox 59 and CBS 4, would join an army of over 200 stations if the the FCC approves the merger of the two media groups.  It could also make a difference in what news gets delivered in our city and how it is reported.

John Oliver of Last Week Tonight took a good and in-depth look at the landscape and the reality of what could be coming to our town.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kenley Leaves Consequential Legacy

Sen. Luke Kenley-R
Noblesville
Luke Kenley, one of the most consequential Senators in the Indiana Senate over the last 50 years, has decided to retire as of September 30.  Abdul-Hakim Shabazz broke the story on his Indy Politics "Cheat Sheet".

Kenley, a Harvard-educated former Noblesville City Judge, found a second political career in the Senate.  He was first elected in 1992 and was reelected in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and, most recently, in 2016.  He is the powerful Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

That means that Kenley has been involved in the Indiana budget process for years as Republicans have not been in the Senate Minority since the late 70's.  Kenley has, for better or worse, kept a tight lid on spending and taxes and has helped the state build the surpluses while other states went into debt.  There's not a major budget initiative that didn't cross his desk.

This past session was one of Kenley's most-challenging sessions as the piper got paid for all the purse string tightening on both sides of the equation.  After years of cutting things to the bone while refusing to increase revenue, Republicans raised over 40 taxes and fees in the budget this time around, so that could be one reason why the 72-year-old  Kenley decided to hang it up.  Regardless, Kenley has earned the right to head off into the sunset and enjoy retirement.

When Kenley retires, he will still have two full sessions left on his term in office.  Republican precinct committeepersons and vice precinct committeepersons will gather once Kenley leaves office to fill the vacant seat.  Whoever gets the seat will have those two years as Senator from District 20 to establish himself or herself before facing oppositon in 2020.

In my capacity as a Democratic political blogger, I wish Senator Kenley a warm retirement and congratulate him on going out on his own terms.  Good luck, sir.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Indiana GOP Refuses To Listen To Responses To Own Facebook Post On ACA

The Indiana Republican Party got more than it bargained for when it asked for Obamacare horror stories on Facebook.



A "walk" through the comments to the post reads like an ad for the Affordable Care Act rather than one against it as people poured out their hearts telling their stories to the Indiana GOP.  The attempted social media stunt with unintended consequences has generated all sorts of coverage by the national media.  Here's just one example from CBS.

In the CBS article, Kyle Hupfer, this week's Chair of the Indiana GOP, blames the Indiana Democratic Party and other Democrats for sharing the social media post and essentially flooding the post with pro-Affordable Care Act stories.  To that, I'd say he's right.  I won't lie.  I shared the post, and I encouraged my friends to share their healthcare stories.  Some of them did.

I also shared my story that, as someone with pre-existing conditions, that I might find difficulty finding coverage or affording coverage under the proposed Republican bills passed by the House and being considered by the Senate.  The sheer volume of stories and the ratio of pro-Obamacare to anti-Obamacare stories kind of speaks against Hupfer's point.

Republicans and those against the Affordable Care Act have also had every opportunity to share their stories and encourage others to speak out.  Their comments, even after the news broke about the social media post, have still been drowned out by those singing the praises of the Affordable Care Act.

Hupfer's response poo-pooing the overwhelmingly pro-ACA stories and the personal nature of some of the comments and what people shared just underscores how much the GOP doesn't care about what people think when it comes to health care.  For Republicans, it seems the problem with Obamacare is that it has become one of the signature accomplishments of the Barack Obama Administration.

When I look at this kerfuffle, I think it shows that there's much more support for the Affordable Care Act than support for the Republican alternatives.  I think that Republicans will regret the attempts to repeal and replace the legislation.

I also see a party that made a big mistake on social media trying to dig its way out of it.  That's also a cautionary tale in this 21st century political world.  Also, even if Obamacare isn't exactly perfect, it's still way better than anything the Republicans have dreamed up, and they've had years to concoct a plan.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

AP Study Shows Democrats Underrepresented in Indiana House, Indiana U.S. House Delegation

The Associated Press confirmed what Democrats have known for several years and what Republicans have been afraid to admit they know: Indiana's General Assembly districts are gerrymandered.

The AP did a study showing that the vote totals from the 2016 election should have resulted in about five more Indiana House seats and one more U.S. House seat for the Democrats.

The Indiana Senate seats were not analyzed, but a simple look at the map of Central Indiana shows that they are perhaps even more gerrymandered than the Indiana House seats.  Several of the Indiana Senate seats appear to be mostly in Marion County only to have parts jog outward into one of the surrounding counties or vice versa.

Take Senate District 28 for example.  The district consists of mostly Hancock and Shelby Counties, but a long finger of the district knifes into Marion County taking in a narrow swath between roughly I-70 and Washington Street going west to Emerson Avenue.  Senate District 36 on the southside encompasses parts of Center and Perry Townships in Marion County, but it runs a narrow leg into Johnson County.  In fact, all seats not held by Democrats in Marion County are just like this (District 32 excluded), and three of them are some of the closest races in the Indiana Senate.

Back in 2010, I wrote a blog post talking about that election cycle.  It was so critical.  At that time, the Indiana House had a 52-48 majority for the Democrats and the Senate was 33-17.  Democrats also held four of the state's nine House seats.

Republicans won in 2010.  It's now 70 seats in the Indiana House, 41 in the Indiana Senate, and seven U.S. House seats for the GOP.  Elections, they have consequences.

Let's hope as time goes on that those consequences are lessened.  The push can continue for fair redistricting done in a non-partisan manner.

It looked like redistricting was going to change in this state this past General Assembly session, but the bill was shut down by the GOP in the committee hearing process.  It's time to force a vote and to let your legislators know what you want.  Be vocal.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CBO Releases Report on "Better Care Act" from Senate

When the GOP and the Democrats gather to vote in the U.S. Senate on health care this week, there should be a ton of interested parties.

We knew that millions of people would be adversely affected by the passage of the Senate's health care bill.  The Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan group, put some human numbers on the bill's effects.

The CBO estimates 22 million Americans will eventually be thrown off insurance.  Deductibles will skyrocket.  Premiums will go up.  Medicaid will be cut.  It's not good, and the outcomes aren't forecast to be good either.

Those in the know have already been on this.  Since the Republicans rolled out the ironically titled Better Care Reconciliation Act, There have been protests.  Just yesterday, protesters were carried away from Todd Young's Indianapolis office.

One protester left in an ambulance.

The way this secret process has gone, it seems that Republicans don't want to hear the truth.  They don't want to look Americans in the eye on health care.  Senator Young is non-committal on the bill, but he is "hoping to get to a yes," according to the Fox 59.

Keep speaking out.  Keep making phone calls.  Susan Collins of Maine is the latest Republican to say she will vote no on the bill.  Keep putting pressure on Senator Young to vote no.  Contact him but please be respectful.

Let's look at what we have and fix it where it needs to be tweaked.