In a speech, the Republican Vitter, who should know better than anyone else in the state given he is the only Louisiana elected official that sits with the majority in the Senate, emphasized the main issue that could cause the federal government to take a circumspect attitude in doling out recovery funds was state government’s ethos regarding managing monetary resources, and stressed four areas in which state government action could assuage federal fears:
Vitter did not mince words, which we can presume echo the thoughts of congressional leaders who control how much money the state will get: “We need bold reforms to prove to the nation . . . we are getting our act together in Louisiana government.” Unfortunately, early indications are the Democrat elites who run the state, as usual, don’t get it.
Coordination and leadership appear uncertain. Only recently has the state gotten with it with a housing recovery plan after dithering in anticipation that the federal government would do something on its own. The just-released Bring New Orleans Back commission’s report, modified by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, provides an excellent starting point and the state’s plan to pay homeowners for repair or sale of their properties should be folded into it regarding Crescent City recovery.
More troublesome has been Democrat Blanco’s and the Democratic-controlled Legislature’s history regarding spending reform and fiscal prudence. In the past special sessions, Blanco had to be pressured to embrace flood control reform, and she allowed the Legislature to scuttle any attempts to consolidate wasteful government structuring in Orleans (while she fought tooth-and-nail for legislation to increase the chances for fraud in elections to assist the Democrats). Also, her latest budget indicates a reckless use of money designed to enhance her reelection prospects that even Vitter found necessary to directly address. And too many in the Legislature not only remain clueless about all of this, they incredibly think they are doing everything right and are too closed-minded to understand why the rest of the world thinks otherwise.
Again, as Vitter’s speech reminded, it all comes down to this: those with political power in Louisiana historically have sided with a liberal/populist agenda to the detriment of the state’s economy and general quality of life. America didn’t much care about that until a crisis occurred and it had to intervene. Now it’s asking Louisiana’s power elite to grow up to help make the intervention effective. And if they won’t Louisiana will need tough love which the federal government will accomplish by withholding sufficient recovery resources until they do.