Friday, 03 January 2014 18:45

La. 2014 watch: Obamacare, Snowden, N.O. Election, Landrieu

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obama-isaacWelcome 2014.  With 2013 behind us I thought it might be interesting to see what is awaiting us in the months to come.  What’s most interesting is that some of the biggest news of 2013 may very well be the biggest news of 2014 


Obama Care.  The last three months of 2013 saw the disastrous roll out of Obama Care.  The law, a radical trashing of America’s health care system, put the federal government into the health care business of every American citizen.  Gone are the days when individuals could make their own health insurance decisions.  The president’s assurance that policy holders could keep their plans and their doctors has proven untrue.  Now Uncle Sam is mandating to the American people which plans to choose from even if the plan or plans have coverage that is not needed or wanted.   

The rollout is now over, the number of signees is far below the target number, countless, yet selective, exemptions from the law have been handed out by the administration, and the implementation phase has begun.  Individuals will now have to live with Obama Care.  The future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be decided by just how well health care consumers adjust to the new law and the new rules.  Will consumers lose their long time doctors?  Will consumers still be able to choose the hospital they want to use?  Will they be able to obtain the drugs that their doctor prescribes?  These and countless other questions will need to be answered.  In the past if a consumer was unhappy with his or her health insurance plan that person could go look for a different plan from a different provider that better fits their needs.  Today those choices are severely limited.   

Consumers will decide the fate of President Obama’s signature legislation.  And consumers will determine the fate of government run health care.  Our first sign of voter reaction will come this November when one third of the U. S. Senate is up for election and the entire U. S. House of Representatives is also on the ballot.  A content electorate will keep the status quo, but an unhappy electorate will bring big change to Washington. 

Edward Snowden.  Mr. Snowden continues in the news.  It was his revelations that brought to light the snooping by the NSA and the invasion of our constitutional liberties by the federal government.  Look for this story to continue as front page news as the American people learn more and more about just who is listening in. 

The Race for Mayor of New Orleans.  Mitch Landrieu is headed for a re-election victory.  The race will be competitive thanks to the late entry of retired judge Michael Bagneris; but, at the end of the day, Mayor Landrieu will be re-elected.  The race is his to lose, and let’s just say it won’t happen.  Mayor Landrieu is too good of a politician to make such a mistake. 

What will be interesting is to watch and see just how much trouble national and local republicans can stir up.  Their goal is a long term one.  Hold Mayor Landrieu’s vote total down as low as possible in the hope that a low vote count will have a negative impact on Mary Landrieu’s Senate race later this year and weaken a possible race for governor by Mitch Landrieu in 2015.  Such tactics seldom have their desired consequences, but republicans are giving it a shot anyway.   

The Race for the Senate.  Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) has never had an easy ride in her senatorial campaigns.  Each of them has been close with Sen. Landrieu winning re-election twice with about 52% of the vote each time.  This year she faces Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy (R) whose campaign has been slow to get started.  Obama Care, the deficit, and NSA snooping are sure to be hot topics.   

This election may be the Republican’s best shot at defeating Sen. Landrieu.  President Obama is very unpopular in Louisiana, and Sen. Landrieu has been a supporter of the president especially with her support of the ACA.  Congressman Cassidy is sure to campaign loud and often on this issue alone.  It won’t be enough to elect him to the Senate, but if Obama Care is as big a failure in practice as the signup has been, Sen. Landrieu could be in trouble.  However, if Congressman Cassidy doesn’t get going soon, it won’t matter.  Voters don’t vote for candidates they don’t know.  They vote for candidates they do know.  And voters turn out incumbents only with opponents they can identify with and whose positions on issues most closely resemble their own. Voters will not defeat somebody with nobody, and it is Congressman Cassidy’s job to make himself somebody. 

By the end of the campaign voters should be sufficiently turned off by both candidates.  The negative campaign ads will be flying ad nausem.  Still voters must choose, and they will. 

One major caveat for both candidates.  National political public relations firms don’t understand Louisiana.  Sen. Landrieu does understand that Louisiana is unique and that her road to victory is a Louisiana campaign not based on cookie cutter campaign ads that could be run anywhere in the country.  Congressman Cassidy and republicans need to understand this too.  If not, as the old saying goes, republicans could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory something republicans have done quite well all over the country.

Lawrence Chehardy

For thirty-four years Lawrence Chehardy served as Assessor of Jefferson Parish. He has been the leading authority on Louisiana’s property tax laws. In addition to his political commentary and public speaking engagements, Lawrence Chehardy is a founding member of the Chehardy, Sherman, Ellis, Murray, Recile, Griffith, Stakelum & Hayes Law Firm and serves as its managing partner.

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