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Bumbling Blanco burns political capital for nothing

Besides advocating policies harmful to Louisiana, another reason Gov. Kathleen Blanco will not win a second term is that events subsequent to her successful foisting of some bad policies on the state made them, and her expenditure of political capital and unfavorable publicity she got doing so, moot without any benefits.

With next to no publicity, this past legislative session the Legislature, with Blanco’s blessing, quietly repealed the misnamed “Healthcare Affordability Act.” Better known to Louisiana as the “sick tax,” Blanco spent a lot of energy and took big political damage over her support of its passage in 2005, which would have assessed a fee of 1.5 percent on hospitals that would have passed it along to consumers. In light of the seismic changes wrought upon the state health care system by the 2005 hurricane disasters, Blanco thought better of imposing this on hospitals and consumers.

The same political result now may be happening in reference to a piece of 2006 legislation, also supported by Blanco, which mandates that ethanol be sold with gasoline if ethanol production reaches a certain level. The legislation is seriously flawed because it allows political considerations to trump the marketplace, meaning a large transfer of wealth from consumers to a few special interests producing ethanol.

Blanco allowed this to go through and tried to make up for it by pushing a bill that supposedly would not allow this other law to go into effect unless the ethanol-blend price was equivalent to the pure gasoline price. For a number of reasons then existing such a day should have been far off in the future. But by allowing a political process, creating a commission to adjudicate this, this still leaves the risk that politics rather than the marketplace will cause this wealth transfer from the citizenry to commence.

But, with the climatology, geography, technology, and now marketplace (with the steadily decreasing price of oil moving it) aspects unfavorable towards ethanol any time soon becoming price competitive, the chance becomes more remote that the dictates of this legislation, touted as a way to reduce energy costs, will commence in the foreseeable future. In other words, the enmity Blanco generated by her refusal to veto the first bill and her lame response with the second after the first’s enactment, in the end will amount to no benefits for her politically or of any kind for anybody for a long time.

Blanco fell into these situations because of her firm belief that government which governs the best governs the most. Those opponents of hers in next year’s governor’s contest who remind the electorate of this unsavory attitude of hers will maximize their chances of succeeding her.

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