Political Notebook

  • Hoosiers asked to help make Indiana more competitive
    The Indiana Department of Revenue on Monday released a report of ideas and recommendations generated at the Indiana Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference in June.
  • Stutzman’s wife on ‘19 Kids’
    Christy Stutzman, wife of Congressman Marlin Stutzman, made a surprise appearance last Tuesday night on the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting.
  • Voters forum set for Saturday
    The Fort Wayne Chapter of The Links Inc., a non-profit women's service organization, will present a voter education and engagement forum from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Public sees rising political nastiness

If you think politics has become nastier, you aren’t alone.

An increasing number of American voters believe politics has become less civil since President Obama took office, according to information published in the July issue of PS: Political Science & Politics. Michael Wolf, IPFW associate professor of political science, was the co-editor of the series.

In examining three surveys, it found that voters who believed politics were growing less civil since the president took office grew from 48 percent in April 2010 to 58 percent in September and was at 63 percent before the 2010 election.

Of course, who is to blame for such incivility depends on a person’s perspective. Republicans blamed liberal commentators and Democrats, Democrats blamed conservative personalities and Republicans while independents blamed the two major parties.

According to a statement announcing the study, most Republicans want politicians to stand firm on principle while most Democrats preferred their politicians to compromise to get things done.

The series pushes the idea that the contemporary nastiness is worse than the normal political discourse of past campaigns, and such incivility is troubling. The results determined the current incivility “contributes to conditions that make future consensus even less possible and enables long-standing partisan divisions.”

With all the concern for heightening political discourse, it would be easy to wonder why it doesn’t change. The study answers that as well: Republicans and Democrats both tended to be mobilized by perceptions of negative campaigning. This happened even when those supporters believed negative campaigns were bad for democracy.

The full report can be found at apsanet.org.

Pence’s money

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence maintained his fundraising edge when campaign finance reports were filed last week.

He reported raising $3 million in the second quarter of 2012, bringing his total raised for the campaign to almost $10 million.

He closed the quarter with more than $5.5 million on hand, a statement said.

Pence has been running statewide TV ads since mid-May, while his competitors have not yet hit the airwaves.

Democrat John Gregg is trailing Pence, even while announcing he tripled his fundraising pace in the second quarter.

A news release from Gregg showed he raised about $1.8 million and has almost $3 million in cash on hand, with no debt.

Libertarian Rupert Boneham reaped about $17,000 and has $2,000 on hand plus a $4,000 debt.

Gregg’s pre-K

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful John Gregg wants to launch a pilot pre-kindergarten program and establish a child-care tax credit for low- and moderate-income working families.

He announced his early-childhood education plan in Terre Haute on Wednesday with a follow-up visit to Indianapolis on Friday.

Gregg’s proposal is part of the Hoosier Handshake, his vision for a better and more prosperous Indiana.

“Studies have shown that pre-kindergarten programs increase high school graduation rates, improve test scores and produce more productive adults,” he said. “We owe it to our kids to make sure they are as prepared as possible to compete in this global economy, and that includes getting them ready to make the most out of their time in school.”

Indiana is one of a handful of states that doesn’t fund pre-kindergarten programs.

Gregg’s plan is three-pronged:

•Launch a pilot pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds to help middle-class and working families who can’t afford private preschool but don’t qualify for federal programs. He said the program is revenue-neutral because it saves money in the long term. But there is still an upfront cost to the state budget he didn’t address.

•Institute a state child-care tax credit to help offset the costs of quality child care for low- and moderate-income working families. He said 23 percent of Hoosier children ages 4 and younger are in families living below the poverty line, while the average annual cost of full-time child care is about $8,000.

•Support the full funding of all-day kindergarten for all Indiana children. Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indiana legislators have increased the funding, which he applauded.

Chamber nod

Senate candidate Richard Mourdock announced Thursday that he has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The backing comes three months after the Chamber gave its support to six-term Sen. Richard Lugar ahead of Indiana’s Republican primary election.

Mourdock, the second-term GOP state treasurer, easily defeated Lugar in the May 8 primary. Mourdock faces Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, in the Nov. 6 general election.

Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said in a written statement that the election of Mourdock “will help produce sustained economic growth, help create more jobs, and get our country back on track.”

On April 17, Chamber executive Rob Engstrom said the world’s largest business advocacy organization was endorsing Lugar “because of his proven record and ability to get things done in support of Indiana job creation and economic growth.”

Mourdock said in a statement about the Chamber’s endorsement: “Congressman Joe Donnelly will continue to support (President) Obama’s Washington, DC Way: increased government spending and higher taxes in the U.S. Senate. I support the Hoosier Way: less government spending and lower taxes, which encourages businesses to expand and jobs to be created.”

Ben Ray, press secretary for the Indiana Democratic Party, said in a statement: “The U.S. Chamber isn’t like the local Chambers we see here in Indiana. The U.S. Chamber supports a budget that would end the Medicare guarantee and has endorsed privatizing Social Security. Richard Mourdock, who thinks Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional, is just one more vote willing to break promises to our seniors to give tax breaks to Wall Street.”

Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.