Outstater: No ‘Indiana mandate’ for Gregg, Pence?

May 1, 2015

“If a book can lead a state out of the wilderness, this is it.” — Lead editorial in the May 14, 1992, Indianapolis Star

“By increasing K-12 appropriations by $474 million, the 2015 budget contains the largest increase in K-12 education in the state’s history.” — press release, April 30, 2015, from the Indiana House of Representatives Republican caucus, part of a historic supermajority

 

THE LAST TIME John Gregg launched a campaign for governor, he tried to introduce a Roorback, that is, a book damaging to the reputation of a political opponent, in his case Mike Pence. It was a tried-and-true tactic dating back to James K. Polk. It should have worked.

The Indianapolis Star accepted Gregg’s depiction of the book as “extreme.” The Pence staff (a skittish bunch, as we have since learned) admitted that their candidate contributed to the work, however nominally, but disavowed it in gestalt. So far so good.

A Roorback, though, doesn’t work well unless it falsely characterizes. And unfortunately for Gregg, the 1992 book was readily available, registered in the Library of Congress under the title, “An Indiana Mandate,” there on the shelf for all of its supposed extremism to be reviewed and compared.

Those few journalists who looked it up found mainly essays on policy and economics by accredited authors, many holding doctorates in the subject matters addressed — boring stuff, by campaign standards.

It was remembered that Gregg had written a note only a few days after the book’s release expressing thanks for his gift copy. And it turned out that the Indianapolis Star at about the same time had praised the book in an above-the-fold editorial. The extremist tag was not sticking.

The Gregg people shifted to more effective tactics, employing a brilliant television campaign ending with Gregg shaking his head in dismay to deliver a folksy, ego-pricking dismissal: “Mike Pence, God love ‘m.” Partly as a result, Gregg did better than most expected against a Republican opponent in a Republican state riding the coattails of a popular Republican incumbent.

This next campaign, though, before the fur begins to fly, begs a few questions: 1) Does Gregg plan to run against an updated “Indiana mandate” in a post-Obama America; and 2) on the other side, would the governor’s prospects be more sure had his administration given the original mandate’s recommendations a higher priority?

To inform your answers, here are excerpts from that long-ago work:

Repeal the Collective Bargaining Act — The state as employer has a fiduciary duty to provide fair pay and working conditions and to respond fairly to grievances. Public-sector collective bargaining, however, holds the taxpayers and dissenting employees hostage for the benefit of unions and their favored politicians.

Reject Crony Capitalism — Gone (from Indianapolis’s $630-million economic-development contract with the now defunct United Airlines hub) was any reference to a minimum-average salary. In fact, gone was any promise to Mayor William Hudnutt that, in return for the city’s contribution, the facility would employ any specific numbers. Instead, United could count any net new employees anywhere in the state, plus any ‘ancillary’ employees who might be employed by a new business even vaguely connected with United.

Require a Supermajority to Call a Short Session — The legislature’s “short” session was sold to the public with the idea that it would be used only to consider matters of emergency. Since its passage, each short session has considered hundreds of bills, almost none of them emergencies. Legislators have used the session to do what voters expressly asked them to avoid — expand government unnecessarily.

Ensure School Choice — Give any Hoosier parent a voucher — or better, a tax credit — that they can cash in at any school anywhere in the state. Such “backpack” funding would let the market reward those teachers and principals and schools who know how to teach.

Enact Tort Reform — Indiana tort law provides only incentive, never penalty, for frivolous litigation. The resultant cost in nonproductive human energy, not to mention higher overhead and increased insurance premiums, is incalculable. Let’s require losing plaintiffs of civil lawsuits to pay the costs incurred by the unjustly accused defendant.

Dignify Work and Self-Determination — Welfare assistance, especially as it affects able-bodied adult men, creates a subculture of dependence that destroys each generation born into it. Legislation should recognize that it is in the recipient’s own interest that government aid not be allowed to be more than a respite from even the most grievous misfortune and disadvantage. Achievement within human society requires by definition overcoming obstacles, some unfair and others unavoidable.

— Craig Ladwig

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