The journal article that's blowing up IN GOP circles—and the Republican author who wrote it
PLUS: Fundraising scoops from Holcomb and Hogsett Worlds.
An article in the conservative journal American Affairs that is sharply critical of the last 17 years of GOP reign in Indiana is circulating among top Republicans, as they contend with whether their approach to economic development has paid dividends for Hoosier voters.
“I read it,” Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb told me of “In Indiana under Republican Rule: ‘Pro-Business’ Policy Disappoints outside the Sunbelt.” “I took exception with multiple parts of it.”
The article, written by Aaron Renn, an economic development columnist for Governing magazine and former fellow at the New York City-based Manhattan Institute, argues that “under Republican leadership the state’s relative incomes started out low and got even lower.”
Renn’s conclusions—disputed by Hoosier GOP officials with whom I’ve spoken—are somewhat damning. “In the end, Indiana built its sandbox, but not very many people or businesses want to play in it, and the ones who do don’t have much money,” he writes. “The state attracts few new residents on net, and the businesses that are locating there are predominantly low-wage employers taking advantage of the state’s lower-skilled, poorly paid workforce. Republicans like to talk about running government like a business. If Indiana actually were a business, shareholders would replace the management after such a poor showing.”
In an interview responding to the article, Holcomb said his goal is for Indiana to be among the top five most economically competitive states in the country and best in the Midwest. “Our cost of living certainly is there, our wages are going up faster than, in addition to the cost of living. So, I would take exception with—while he’s right, that there are some other areas and the south has some built-in weather advantages—I'm looking at, and what I really wish he would've done, is really pulled out the Midwest and said, “Let's compare apples to apples.”
Holcomb said that on the whole, GOP governance has been a boon for the state. “We turned the aircraft carrier around, started paying our bills, started growing our wages,” he told me. “If you look at our wages every year through the IEDC, that we're adding up—but our trick is, my challenge, my responsibility, partly my responsibility, is getting people skilled up to fill those jobs. That's the real key.”
In an interview, Renn told me that he is a lifelong Republican who is interested in “updating the Republican policy toolbox to respond to today’s 21st century realities, not the bygone Cold War era in which the legacy conservative policy consensus was formed.”
Our conversation—plus two scoops about Holcomb’s and Hogsett’s fundraising efforts for possible future political races—is below: