David Hoppe

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:: The Hoosier Way

by David Hoppe

Indiana hates you.

Let’s face it, if you’re not one of those “high income earners” Indiana lusts for, this state has one word for you: Scram.

For this we have our governor, Mike Pence to thank.

That’s Mike Pence, the presidential hopeful. Pence, you may recall, soft-shoed it during his gubernatorial campaign two years ago. At that time, he was all about doing things “the Hoosier way.”

Well, we’re finding out what that means. If you’re hungry, sick, or too young to defend yourself, it means find another state.

The most recent installment of this long good-bye came from the state’s Family and Social Services Administration, euphemistically known in some quarters as the welfare department. After the Great Recession hit, the FSSA began waiving the federal requirement that single people work 20 hours a week, or attend job training, in order to receive food stamps.

But this is not the Hoosier Way. Starting in 2015, it looks as though as many as 65,000 Hoosiers will lose their food stamps. As Gov. Pence put it: "I'm someone that believes there's nothing more ennobling to a person than a job…And to make sure that able-bodied adults without dependants at home know that here in the state of Indiana, we want to partner with them in their success."

According to the Hoosier Way, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Like all the way to a neighboring state, where they might find some health care. You see, expanding Medicaid coverage to an additional 300,000 Hoosiers isn’t the Hoosier Way, either.

Gov. Pence refuses to expand Medicaid, as called for by the Affordable Care Act. This not only means that Indiana hospitals will lose out on an estimated $1 billion in federal funds, it also means that many of the most vulnerable Hoosiers, like those with mental illnesses, won’t receive adequate care. According to a report by the American Mental Health Counselors Association, Indiana, of all the states, has the most mentally ill residents (62 percent) who would have been eligible for Medicaid under the ACA expansion.

There’s more (or less, actually). Indiana is one of 16 states with little or no state-funded pre-school for low-income children. This dubious distinction enabled us to qualify for $80 million dollars in federal aid. Did we take it?

Perish the thought! Not the Hoosier Way.

Gov. Pence and his fellow Republicans never tire of bragging about Indiana’s economy. This, in spite of the fact they have failed to keep their campaign promises to better the low per capita rate of Hoosier pay. What a vexing reality check for the rightwing fantasy of free market prosperity. If the Hoosier Way is so great, why are so many Hoosiers barely getting by?

It doesn’t add up.

But addition isn’t Gov. Pence’s thing. He’s into subtraction. Imagine how our per capita income will jump — if we can just get rid of some poor people. That’s the Hoosier Way: Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.