Monday, 12 March 2018 17:04

Governor Edwards session speech gives sucking sound from leadership vacuum

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leadership vacuumMore the second act of the speech he gave to kick off the special session recently concluded early, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ 2018 State of the State address just can’t let go, a broken record just sounding along.

Edwards’ remarks contained a rehash of several items allegedly reflecting his administration’s accomplishments, selectively chosen to claim credit for the work of his predecessor, that deflected from a fair-to-middling — at best — state economic performance, or designed to gloss over warts of his policies, warning about the supposed consequences if not following his policy prescriptions. He also defended recent criminal justice reforms he championed under fire that put the cart before the horse — reducing incarceration rates to save money without having place the infrastructure to ensure minimal consequences from criminals’ early releases.

Given the divisiveness that his policies have introduced, Edwards understandably went after low-hanging fruit, such as laws against hazing, expanded bureaucracy to study various public policies, and occupational licensing reform. Additionally, he voiced perennial agenda items of his: weakening educational accountability, a job-killing minimum wage hike, and putting into law intrusive government based on the myth that unequal pay unadjusted for other factors exists between men and women.

And, the Army officer in Edwards again emerged, with a lecturing tone particularly about the just-ended session that ignored any responsibility on his part for its non-productivity. He did skip over some big issues, such as large-scale reform of gambling regulation.

Further, for whatever reason, Edwards resorted to outright mendacity on a few matters. He mentioned that more births in Louisiana occurred in rural hospitals – his exact words being “chances are” – when in fact reviewing birth statistics from 2015 (the latest data available), the amount of births from the ten largest parishes in the state, all urban, was 57.5 percent of the total. He also repeated the assertion that Medicaid expansion had reduced the uninsured rate, when in reality the latest 2016 data showed no decrease at all in Louisiana’s six months after expansion, and he rebroadcast the distortion that expansion “saved” money, which it did not: it “saves” only because of a $230 million tax increase on the sick, the insured, and taxpayers dedicated to pay for expansion.

All it all, this effort represented nothing more than a tiresome recitation of warmed-over, half-baked policy preferences trying to take, if not actually already taking, Louisiana backwards, along with a layup or two. As a whole, his agenda offers few serious solutions for problems the state faces, reflecting the vacuum of leadership endemic of his time on office from an insistence of putting ideology over the peoples’ needs.

Read 249 times Last modified on Monday, 12 March 2018 18:01
Jeffrey Sadow

Jeffrey Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.   He writes a daily conservative blog called Between The Lines
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