Friday, 20 June 2014 17:45

Scalise, not Landrieu, brings power and influence for Louisiana?

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scalise-landireuCongratulations to Republican Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, who is now House Majority Whip, the third highest position in Congress’s lower body. 

Based upon what I already know and further based upon what I have been reading now for the last week, Scalise’s whip spot will help a Louisiana that is in dire need for more Congressional stroke, than ever before. 

 Much has been said about the loss of influence that redistricting has imposed upon Louisiana this century. The state is two seats shy of where we were over the past decades, and our Congressional power even during the later part of the 20th century was nothing to write home about. 

In an statement by Mike Bayham, Chairman of the Greater New Orleans Republicans, "Steve Scalise's election is a big win for his constituents, Louisiana and conservatives. Louisiana has lost two congressional seats since 1992, yet Steve has managed to mitigate our state's loss in number with clout and influence on Capitol Hill.” 

By virtue of Scalise’s win yesterday, since he is number three in the lower body, he now gives our state more clout and influence on Capitol Hill. 

Hard to disagree with that. 

In fact, for the past week, on local talk radio, conservative callers have chimed in loudly about how Scalise will help the state with projects, jobs and recognition. 

Ever since the former  1st Congressional District representative, Bob Livingston, took a dive from the House Speaker spot after being outed during the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, and ever since John Breaux decided to call it a day as US Senator and close friend to President George W. Bush, Louisiana congressional power has been in rather short supply. 

After what so many of us experienced with the horrors of trying to recover from disastrous hurricanes such as Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, if anyone should know the importance of power and influence in the federal legislative process, it should be residents from South Louisiana. 

So, it would appear to be an absolute truism that having someone at the top of the power pecking chain in bringing home the pork, even in a post-earmark environment, is a good thing. 

At a time of need, with Louisiana still at the bottom of most lists, with the state being one of the most dependent in the country in terms of federal support, I have not heard a single pundit, politician (whether Republican or Democrat) or talk radio caller not promote the notion that Steve Scalise’s elevation to the top of the GOP House charts would not benefit the region and the state. 

It is a given

Let me emphasize this—I have not heard a single Democrat put a damper on the benefits of having Steve Scalise in power. It’s been just the opposite, actually. I strongly suspect that readers of this column would agree with this assessment. 

So, if Scalise as Majority Whip will provide “power and influence” and will be great for the state, why are some claiming Mary Landrieu’s position to be such a liability? Landrieu, due to her seniority, which is basically “gold” in the way that government tender works, now holds one of the most important slots in the entirety of the federal government in an sphere highly important to Louisiana.  Energy and Natural resources, over which committee she chairs in the US Senate, is the lifeblood of the Louisiana economy and culture.   

For a state that employs so many people in the energy-related sector of the economy, the very industry that has brought in so many of the 50 to 70 billion dollars of projects our governor Bobby Jindal is boasting over, it is logical that having the great “power and influence” over such a large part of the national and state’s economy would be highly desirous, if not downright glorious. 

Yet, there are some who want us to believe that Mary Landrieu’s presence as Chairperson of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee does not help Louisiana, and, worse, hurts the state. 

Yes, in the height of double-speak, Landrieu’s opponents and high officials of the Republican Party have the temerity to espouse that Landrieu offers us no benefit and causes more harm than good to the state. 

So, the question rattling in my brain over the past week-- ever since Scalise’s name was mentioned as a viable candidate for Majority Whip--why would Scalise as 3rd in the party House Leadership yield him more power and influence benefiting Louisiana, yet Landrieu’s Senate chairmanship related to Louisiana’s most critical industry sector, be not only bad, but a real setback for us? 

Makes no real sense to me, although it surely makes plenty of logic in the world of partisan politics. 

In analyzing this perverted dichotomy, take this statement as exhibit # 1: “When given the chance, Mary Landrieu proved that her ‘clout’ is nothing more than a campaign talking point, seeking to hoodwink Louisiana voters into believing that Landrieu is on their team,” said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen. “Over the last few months, Mary Landrieu has proved that she is utterly powerless as the Energy Chair, and her mere presence in the Senate enables Barack Obama and Harry Reid to execute anti-energy agenda at the expense of hardworking Louisianians.” 

Utterly powerless? 

Exhibit # 2: The reality is, Mary Landrieu has no influence because Harry Reid runs the Senate (the same Harry Reid who Landrieu recently declared that she will continue to support as Senate Leader). Which brings us Landrieu’s shame Keystone “show” vote today in the Senate Energy Committee. 

“No influence”? 

“Her mere presence in the Senate enables Barack Obama and Harry Reid to execute anti-energy agenda at the expense of hardworking Louisianians”? 

Give me a break. 

True, she is not indispensable as she once told the TP, but she surely has “power and influence” and her presence does not “enable” the Demos to hurt Louisiana. 

At most, and at worse, her presence and her support of Harry Reid in 2016 (should he run) could hurt Louisiana on certain energy issues, such as the Keystone. So, arguably, she would “help enable”, not “enable”. 

Furthermore, Keystone is not the only energy issue. 

Also, would Louisiana be in a better position in this economic sector if she were not Chair? Let us not forget, there are many Republicans and Democrats who could be Chairperson who are not supportive of our state’s energy economy on a variety of issues.   

Her presence as chair of this committee so vital to Louisiana is no less powerful and influential than Steve Scalise’s presence as number 3 in Congress. If anything, given our state’s close connection to oil and gas, her position is much more important to the state.   

Now before you loyal readers start reporting that this is an endorsement of Mary Landrieu for U.S. Senate, it is not. 

Unquestionably, there are many other issues in this campaign, and each voter should and hopefully will weigh the relative importance of each and every one of them. 

Louisiana is a red state and her overall voting record does not comport with the politics of our most likely voters. 

Included in the mix of issues, however, is the possible neutering of Louisiana’s “power and influence” should Landrieu lose in the Senate and should Vitter depart the august senior house for a stay in the governor’s Mansion. 

If that scenario occurs, Louisiana starts at the bottom rung of seniority with much less “power and influence” in the more powerful branch of government. 

So, congrats to Steve Scalise whose elevation in the US House of Representatives make all of us proud.  I have known his family for years and have seen him blossom into a real leader of men. His ascendency will surely help Louisiana greatly. 

And hopefully the GOP and some of those writing the talking points from Washington DC, who would not know Metairie from Covington or gumbo from crawfish bisque, will stop make not only absurd and insulting, but worse--bogus statements which very existence mitigates valid arguments in their favor.

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