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Jindal's hamonious notes overwhelm Campbell's one note

If Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell wonders why his campaign for governor has drawn such little support, he needs to look at one of the toys of his youth.

When amusements for youth were fairly low-tech, one of the more sophisticated pieces was the wind-up doll that, when pulling a string or like device, it would spout a few words and maybe even waddle around or move in some other way. Today’s poster child for a Louisiana politician version of it would be Campbell: wind him up, pull the string, and he starts chattering about, and only about, his idea to tax oil processing in the state while getting rid of income taxes and having something left over to spend on other things.

There are two massive problems with this kind of campaign. One is that to call this plan half-baked would be to treat it charitably. The potential shortcomings with it are legion:

  • It likely is not constitutional to tax the owners of the oil but the processors – state business who would bear the brunt of the increase and force the tax increase onto Louisiana consumers
  • It would require nearly impossible majorities to enact, two-thirds of each chamber of the Legislature and a majority of the electorate as it would need Constitutional amending – votes Campbell is unlikely to strongarm out of the Legislature and cajole from the public (which will be especially skeptical that, after this has been achieved, that the Legislature would cut taxes)
  • In the meantime while all this is happening, any plans to build new refineries or to expand capacity of existing ones in Louisiana will be cancelled and this business will go to other states, and oil companies will alter their processing strategies to cut significantly oil moving through Louisiana, costing big sales, property, and income tax revenues to the state.

    The second is that Campbell really has no campaign beyond this one measure.
    Check the campaign website (whose numbers on his plan don’t add up in any event) – there’s nothing else on the issues there but the plan (at least when this column was written). So what do voters really know about what Campbell would do as governor?

    Even Campbell apparently doesn’t know. Illustrative was at a parade sponsored by unions he attended, where he was
    waylaid by somebody with a question about his support for the state’s compulsory motorcycle helmet law. Campbell said he didn’t know, in contrast to the prohibitive favorite Bobby Jindal whose promise of repeal was much more to the liking of the questioner.

    As qualifying for the contest begins, a serious gubernatorial candidate has got to know these things and to provide a rationale for why he supports what he does. Jindal does, with answers to the public’s liking, and this is why at present he is wiping the floor with the likes of Campbell.
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