Tully: Trying to “Primary” Lugar Would be Ill-Advised

Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully penned a column today contending that if a faction of the GOP was to push for a primary ousting of Sen. Richard Lugar in 2012, it would be an ill-fated and ill-advised decision. He writes:

However unrealistic it seems, it would be foolish to assume any long-term incumbent is untouchable, given the mood of the voting public of late. And most Republican insiders I’ve talked to expect Lugar to indeed face a challenge from a faction of the GOP that thinks he’s been in D.C. too long and worked with Democrats too often.

Still, there are reasons to believe Lugar will not suffer the same fate that has ended the political careers of some of his Senate colleagues. Here are five:

  1. Some social conservatives complain about Lugar, but he remains popular in the eyes of mainstream conservatives. Some ideologues portray Lugar as a liberal, a ridiculous suggestion for a guy who, according to The Washington Post, has voted with his party 84 percent of the time this year. That’s one percentage point less than the Senate GOP average. "There may be disagreements on certain policies," said Luke Messer, a former executive director of the Indiana Republican Party. "But he is deeply respected by Republicans.

  2. If Lugar does face a tough battle from the far right, many Democrats and independents likely would cross over to vote in the GOP primary in order to back him. "People on our side respect Dick Lugar," said former state Democratic Chairman Robin Winston.

  3. Gov. Mitch Daniels, who worked for Lugar for years, remains extremely popular. His support would help the senator. Additionally, the well-run political organizations of the two men have worked closely together and likely would continue to do so.

  4. Unlike some of his colleagues on the front end of the anti-incumbent wave, Lugar won’t be caught off guard. He has already made clear he is running again, a shrewd move that should keep any top-tier Republicans from entertaining the idea of a run.

  5. And here’s the final reason Lugar won’t lose in 2012: Hoosiers are smarter than that.

I’d like to "go rogue" here and offer my personal thoughts as a voter (which do not necessarily reflect the position of the Indiana Chamber): As someone who falls in the political center (a.k.a. abyss) of this conservative/liberal paradigm that’s been shoveled out in modern American politics, I find folks like Sen. Lugar to be rather refreshing in their willingness to think, compromise and generally try to make government actually work.

While it can be fun to draw ideological lines in the sand, get sanctimonious about protecting your team and toss around catchy barbs like "RINO," it’s far more productive to discuss ideas, consider the other side’s point of view and actually try to enact helpful legislation when the time warrants it. Personally, I’d argue Sen. Lugar has done that honorably for years.

Senate Votes to Open Health Care Debate

On Saturday, a 60-39 vote opened the debate on the 2,074-page health care bill in the U.S. Senate. The debate on the amending proposal is slated to last for several (if not more) weeks. CNN reports:

"We do not believe completely restructuring one-sixth of our economy is a good idea at any time," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told CNN. "It is a particularly bad idea when we’re looking at double-digit unemployment."

McConnell and other Republicans call for an incremental approach that they say would reduce the costs of health care without creating new bureaucracy and taxes.

"We think we ought to go step-by-step to improve the system," McConnell said. "The American people are not complaining about the quality of health care. They’re complaining about the cost of health care."

Democrats respond that the Republicans are ignoring millions of Americans who can’t get health insurance.

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Democrat who was a Republican for most of his long career until changing parties this year, told "Fox News Sunday": "The one option which is not present in my judgment is the option of doing nothing."

"We have the opposition refusing to admit that there’s any problem with health care, refusing to admit that there’s any problem with global warming, refusing to take a stand on the economic crisis," Specter complained about his former party.

The 60-39 Senate vote Saturday to open debate revealed the partisan divide on the issue, and the fragility of the Democratic support. Democrats needed their entire caucus, including two independents, to muster the 60 votes required in the 100-member chamber to overcome a Republican filibuster.

Now several conservative and moderate Democrats say they won’t support a final bill that includes a public insurance option. Republicans unanimously oppose the public option, which means it cannot survive in the chamber without unanimous Democratic support.

"I don’t think anybody feels this bill will pass" in its current form, Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut told NBC’s "Meet the Press." Lieberman voted to start debate on the bill, but reiterated Sunday he would join a Republican filibuster if the public option remains in the proposal when it comes time to end the debate.

See the Indiana Chamber’s view below:

Howey: Believe It or Not, Indiana Senate Races Were Once Competitive

No matter which side of the aisle you’re aligned with, one thing all Hoosiers can agree on is that our U.S. Senate races haven’t exactly been competitive lately. Brian Howey examined the issue in a recent column, noting the Hoosier state’s senatorial seats were once hotly contested. He also posted these past election results to consider:

Modern Indiana U.S. Senate races

Vance Hartke – 56.5 %
Harold Handley – 42.4 %

Birch Bayh – 50.3
Homer Capehart (i) – 49.7

Vance Hartke – 54.7
Russel Bontrager – 45.3

Birch Bayh – 51.7
Bill Ruckleshaus – 48.2

Vance Hartke – 50.1
Richard Roudebush – 49.9

Birch Bayh – 50.7
Dick Lugar – 46.4

Dick Lugar – 58.8
Vance Hartke (i) – 40.5

Dan Quayle – 53.8
Birch Bayh (i) – 46.2

Dick Lugar – 53.8
Floyd Fithian – 45.6

Dan Quayle – 61.1
Jill Long – 38.9

Dick Lugar – 67.7
Jack Wickes – 32.3

Dan Coats – 53.7
Baron Hill – 46.3

Dan Coats – 57.3
Joe Hogsett – 40.7
Steve Dillon – 1.6

Dick Lugar – 67.4
Jim Jontz – 30.5

Evan Bayh – 63.7
Paul Helmke – 34.8
Rebecca Sink-Burris – 1.5

Dick Lugar – 66.5
David Johnson – 31.9
Paul Hager – 1.6

Evan Bayh – 62.0
Marvin Scott – 37.0
Al Barger – 1.0

Dick Lugar – 87.4
Steve Osborn – 12.6

Ledbetter Act a Lead Weight for Businesses

The Indiana Chamber believes the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (S. 181) will do serious harm to America’s businesses in a time when they need anything but more burdens.

The bill recently passed the U.S. Senate, with Indiana’s Senators splitting their votes (Bayh in favor, Lugar against). Our position is that the bill effectively removes the statute of limitations for the vast majority of discrimination cases and would make it easier to sue employers — even decades after the fact.

This legislation responds to the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, 550 U.S. 618, 127 S. Ct. 2162 (2007). Lilly Ledbetter was a Goodyear employee from 1979 to 1998. Around her retirement, Ledbetter filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging pay discrimination because from time to time over the course of her career she received lower pay increases than male co-workers. The Supreme Court ruled that she was required to bring suit within 180 days of the act of discrimination (each decision by her employer to pay her less) and rejected her argument that each paycheck should restart the clock with respect to filing her discrimination lawsuit involving events that happened many years prior. Now, S. 181 would overturn the Ledbetter decision and specify that the statutes of limitations under four discrimination statutes — protecting classes such as age, disability, race, color, religion, sex and national origin — begin anew each time an individual is compensated (if the compensation was affected), essentially eliminating time limits for many claims.

If enacted, this legislation would virtually eliminate the statute of limitations for pay discrimination claims, increase potential damages for employees, limit employer defenses and expand class-action lawsuits. It would make it very difficult to resolve cases in a timely manner and make it more expensive to hire new workers (due to increased litigation costs).

The U.S. Chamber also opposes the measure. Check out their response here.

UPDATE: It’s official as President Obama signed the Ledbetter Act into law on January 29. If you visit its page on Whitehouse.gov, you can view the full text and let the administration know your opinion about this law.