Jindal turned back over $98 million which would have gone to paying benefits to people who quit their jobs for various reasons and to part-time workers. He said he did so for purely fiscal reasons, because the federal subsidy would halt after two years and if the state changed its laws to allow this it would then be on the hook for paying this extra amount. This legally would require a tax increase on business, which funds unemployment insurance. It also reduced the work length requirement to three months, making it much easier for people to game the system.
What he tried to delicately avoid in this argument is there is a policy component to it all. Changing the law to alter the eligibility for these funds would connote a policy change, because unemployment insurance payment throughout its history has made no distinction about the reason for leaving a job, only if it was not instigated by a full-time, long-time worker. In other words, this part of the law (as well as many other parts) is an attempt to undo welfare reform, which over a decade ago ended the practice of lifetime supplementary benefits for those that did not earn income, and for Louisiana to change the law to fit it would endorse this unraveling. While Jindal may not want to admit that his resistance is based upon the idea that able-bodied people should not be paid not to work, that is its practical import.
Then the dunderhead chorus piped up:
Let’s deal with this ignorance one remark at a time, using Jindal’s statement on the matter as a starting point: “The federal government, Congress, it’s their right to go and say, ‘We will give you these dollars if you make these changes.’ It’s also our right to say, ‘We don’t think this change is good for Louisiana.’ ” And in this case, he is absolutely right about the undesirability of this particular change, so not only does Landrieu creates a false dichotomy when he equates the spending as in the state’s interest and only partisan considerations triggering opposition, he is exactly wrong in not admitting the long-term impact of the law will be to harm the state. There are no mixed messages here at all: rejecting much of the bill (if Jindal had been really bold he would have included other rejections like extension of unemployment benefits and increased amounts that only will delay recovery by creating incentives not to work) is in the best interests of the state and Landrieu appears entirely confused about this.
Jackson’s comment shows, despite years in elective office, that she has no idea how all of this works. Jindal’s statement speaks equally to her denseness as well in that states legally are perfectly free to refuse federal money, an obtuseness on her part born of her liberal political ideology that demands the maximal spending of money by government because in its removal of resources from the people and redistribution by government of them it gives politicians like her more power and privilege. In other words, the statement reflects such a narrow-mindedness that she cannot consider for one moment why government should refuse spending money (unless perhaps it’s on something necessary like national defense which doesn’t transfer money to a preferred constituency).
Adley, also a veteran legislator, shows more philosophical then procedural vapidity concerning the grant process but betrays the same liberal mentality that it is government’s primary job to take money from some and give it to others. A “fair share” exists only when it benefits all citizens equally, but that’s clearly not the case with the rejected funds which would have gone from the broader, working population that pays most taxes to a small segment that would choose not to work and thereby pay little in taxes. There is no “fairness” to that arrangement at all. Even more disturbingly, Adley seems to promote the idea that a state should accept funds regardless of their purpose without some examination of the policy behind it. For example, just because it was there would Adley accept increased federal funding devoted to abortion if the federal government mandated that it go to more killings of the unborn?
Sadly, too many of our elected officials in Louisiana display such sub-par mental acuity in evaluating important issues of the day. Unable to think critically, they fall back upon simplistic ideology. Happily, Jindal can think for himself. He is to be applauded for making the right call, and let us hope he is as vigilant regarding all aspects of this injurious new law.