Friday, 05 February 2016 19:38

Louisiana Party politics getting in the way of Edwards-legislators, fixing budget

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louisiana washington wayIf anybody is expecting Louisiana to move away from Washignton DC-style politics, I'm almost ready to take bets against such a notion. 

With the state budget in the toilet, instead of our leaders getting together to make some deals so we can get out of this mess, we have so far seen a lot of brass knuckles-style political theater that gets a lot of attention, but, creates logjams and gridlock, beltway style.

Our past Governor-presidential dopeful used to go around the state, promoting the "Louisiana Way" vs the "Washington Way" of budgeting and governance.  Judging from the current fiscal horrors, maybe he fed us the "wrong way". 

So far, we've seen little cooperation in Baton Rouge.  There was the episode of Jon Bel Edwards pushing his Speaker of the House, and losing, with the Republican winner Taylor Barras, last week, showing democrats little mercy on matters of budgetary chairmanship positions. 

And, just look what happened the past twenty-four hours.

Interestingly, at least for me, after I published a column urigng honest talk" and asking everyone to come together to fix our budget nightmare, the Democrats who surely have their own agenda, took to the Internet airwaves, blasting Republican legislators.

The Louisiana Democratic Party today issued a statement in support of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ call for legislative cooperation and honest leadership as the state begins to grapple with the budgetary crisis left in Bobby Jindal’s wake. In his first days in office, our new Democratic governor has addressed the fiscal crisis with seriousness of purpose, and addressed the people of Louisiana with honesty and respect. Our state’s political leaders are being called to a reckoning with the catastrophic results of eight years of financial recklessness and mismanagement. To meet the challenge, Edwards is offering a sobering array of options and ideas. Republican leaders in the legislature, by contrast, have yet to offer anything whatsoever.

With no proposals on the table and no ideas for moving our state forward, Rep. Cameron Henry and the Republicans in the legislature who answer to him are failing the test of leadership. The new Speaker of the House they installed, Rep. Taylor Barras, has yet to offer anything of substance. Thanks largely to their years of failure and cowardice in the face of Bobby Jindal’s ambition, the state of Louisiana faces an unprecedented crisis. The only ghost of an idea Louisiana Republicans have floated to date is a threat to abandon their responsibilities altogether and walk away from the special session.

“If Speaker Barras refuses to lead and If Cameron Henry and the Republican legislators who do his bidding can’t be bothered to show up for work, maybe it’s time for them to resign,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Louisiana is in a desperate situation, one that calls for leadership and responsibility. Republican leaders owe it to the taxpayers that pay them and elected them to show up, to put some real ideas on the table, and to work with Governor Edwards to move our state forward.”

The Louisiana Republican Party then offered their own blistering criticism, slapping back at the Democratics:

Leaders of the LouisianaDemocratPartytoday attempted to blow up any hope for bipartisan cooperation by attacking Republican House leaders, including newly-elected Speaker Taylor Barras and Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry.

"Speaker Barras has conducted himself with great professionalism in a sprit of bipartisan cooperation since his election," LAGOP Chairman Roger Villere said. "He appointedDemocratsto head important committees in the House and has had an open door policy to speak with members across the aisle. Today's attacks are an attempt to bring Washington-style politics to Louisiana.”

“Further, Chairman Henry’s insistence that the budget solution include cuts and reforms should be applauded and is deserving of bipartisan support as Governor Edwards promised the same during his campaign."

So much for party-budget diplomacies.  Louisianas needs this type of "cooperation" like we need another ten-dollar drop in oil prices.

Of course, yesterday, the party spats were not just limited to the budget. 

The Republicans also took aim at another Democrat, this one, Caroline Fayard, who announced earlier that she was running for US Senate.

The Republicans offered its opinion by calling her “ethically-challenged”.  The relevant part of the eblast said” Ethically-challenged Caroline Fayard, who was at the center of campaign money laundering accusations, announced today that she is running for U.S. Senate.

Fayard's parents wrote a huge check to the Louisiana DemocratParty when she ran for office, and the Democrats spent a similar amount on their daughter's campaign, allegedly sidestepping the $5,000 contribution limit imposed by Louisiana law.

"Caroline Fayard is out of touch with Louisiana values, claiming that Obamacare has been 'a net positive' for our state," LAGOP Executive Director Jason Doré said. "She obviously wants to go to Washington to be a rubber stamp for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Either way, she is not qualified to represent a conservative state like Louisiana in DC."

Fayard announced in true Louisiana Democrat form, telling us how honest she is and how true her motives are," Dore said. "This is a joke. Her history is one of losing elections, skirting around campaign finance laws and promoting the socialist agenda of the nationalDemocrat Party. If elected, Fayard's first vote would be to allowDemocrats to organize the US Senate and stack every committee with left-wing Democrats."

Incidentally, while, it appears to me the GOP has a good reason to poke at this Fayard family apparent “money-funnel” through the Democratic Party, it is odd that the Republicans are now so outraged at such ethical lapses. 

You might forget, only months ago, David Vitter federal campaign, sent over a million dollars (and counting) to his Super PAC who then used the money to help promote candidate and gubernatorial hopeful, Vitter.  The state law prohibited movement of money from the federal to the state campaigns but, with the advent of these Super PACS, Vitter found a way to infuse his candidacy with ads promoting his own virtues as well as attacking his opponents.

And let us not forget that Vitter’s most ardent admirer and disciple is now running for US Senate and is flush with cash in his state campaign warchest but his federal campaign is somewhat dry.  If it has not happened yet, you can bet a bunch of dollars "state campaign dollars" will find its way to his own Super PAC which will spend handsomely during the upcoming months for Kennedy’s US Senate run.

Will the Republicans complain and call anybody “ethically challenged”?  Don’t bet on it.  They didn’t complain when Vitter made out like a bandit and they won’t do so now.

But, maybe there is a light of hope emerging as we could certainly use it.  Today, Legislative Republican leaders sent a letter to Governor Edwards, thanking him for his proposals, admitting that cuts alone won’t make it and laying out their ideas that should be discussed, although some are claiming, they are really laying down the gauntlet for a future slaughter.

Prefering to assume better motive, this is certainly better than republicans shutting down the session and going home.  It would make sense for Governor Edwards to pay attention, as he said he would, and show the republican leaders that he and they can do a lot better than both of their political parties, have done, to date.

It would also be useful if the political parties stayed out of this budget scrap as much as possible.  We need fixes. We don't need partisanship to ruin a wonderful opportunity for our state government leaders to screw it up themselves.  DC brand of party politics setting the tone is great for polarizing the electorate and by the way, filling up the party coffers. 

But, at this time, it is the Louisiana treasury that needs a filling or a cutting--now or both--and big time.  

We need cooler heads who have an obligation to the state rather than a party.  We need statesmen to do their duties, not "do the other side in". 

There still might be hope we walk that "Louisiana Way" Jindal spoke about, but never delivered.

It's almost worth takin odds.

If i were a betting man.

Dead Pelican

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