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Pence, Bosma try to keep reins on intraparty tax battle

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Republicans typically invoke Ronald Reagan's "11th Commandment" when they're fighting within the family, and there's been plenty of infighting recently over Gov. Mike Pence's tax cut at the Statehouse.

Reagan made famous the rule that no Republican shall speak ill of a fellow party member. Pence invoked it at the Marion County Reagan Day Dinner last week as he looked down from the stage at his sharpest critic of late, House Speaker Brian Bosma, and asked Republicans to cool their heels.

That Bosma and Pence can't agree on the governor's proposal to cut the personal income tax 10 percent is hardly news. Bosma threw cold water on the idea one month before Pence was elected governor and has done everything he can to dissuade Pence since then, including passing a $30 billion budget that doesn't include the cut.

Pence has refused to consider any alternative to his cut and has conducted a statewide campaign asking residents to press lawmakers to support it. A concurrent ad campaign launched by tea partyers Americans for Prosperity against House Republicans has only angered Bosma and other Republican lawmakers. But throughout the battle, the two Republican leaders had been cordial, if a bit coy, in public.

That changed last week after some tense moments involving the two at the Indianapolis fundraiser.

Pence spent much of his 20-minute speech pitching his tax cut with the same lines he's used at other fundraisers throughout the state. But his applause lines raised only modest support throughout the room. Bosma clapped lightly, while the guests at his table held their applause.

So Pence added the "11th Commandment" to the end of his pitch.

"As we work through these challenging issues at the Statehouse, wherever you are on this issue, if you're 'fer it' or you're 'agin it,' or if you're somewhere in between, let me say from my heart, especially to my friends and allies, near and far: We will not build up our state by tearing each other down. It is essential that we stay positive in advocating our positions."

Bosma walked on stage a few minutes later, after Pence had left, and hit back with a zinger: "I would have said this with the governor here still: I was going to start off with saying 'I'm from Americans for Prosperity and I'm just here to help.'"

Both men downplayed their remarks in the following days.

Pence told reporters that his plea for civility was directed at AFP. "Earlier this week, I encouraged that organization to consider a more positive approach," he said.

And Bosma, who called a news conference to denounce the AFP ads as "erroneous," said he did not believe the Reagan rule was meant for him. "Actually, I thought it was self-analysis. I was there when he said it, and it seemed to me a mea culpa."

Still, the open tension is a bit of a shock for a party largely immune to it. With the exception of last year's Senate battle between former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and the ongoing court battles of former Secretary of State Charlie White, Indiana's Republicans have largely been able to join hands in public.

Democratic control of the House of Representatives and governor's office through the past few decades helped drive Republicans together.

Pence's invocation of the "11th Commandment" is a clear call for peace at a time of distress and not necessarily a sign that either he or Bosma will back down in this battle.

Even Reagan might agree. Before he became the much-celebrated intraparty peacemaker, Reagan fought through two nasty presidential primaries and buried a few foes along the way.

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  • Why bother voting GOP?
    I don't care about the 11th amendment. Brian Bosma and the Indiana GOP swiftly gave millions in tax credits to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for facility upgrades, yet begrudge workers a small income tax decrease? On top of that, we have our GOP mayor endorsing a tax increase on workers to fund a boondoggle mass transit expansion. I see no point in voting for the GOP when they act as hostile towards taxpaying workers as the Democrats do. And what's with Bosma's arrogant, flippant attitude towards conservative grass roots groups? This is the attitude of someone who has served in the Statehouse for far too long. I'm afraid the GOP has lost my support entirely to the Libertarians. To hell with it.

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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