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Democrat budget preserves party at state's expense

When, as predicted, enough Louisiana Republican House members caved in to allow full funding of the dramatic spending increases in Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s record state budget, it allowed state Democrats to pursue their vision for the future of the state – one primarily based on their own partisan considerations at the expense of the people of the state.

Over the next week or so, Democrats will ram home a budget over 10 percent larger than last year’s, chock full of spending increases that will eat up more than 90 percent of the recovery/oil economic bubble on which the state floats, of which about a third concerns recurring expenditures. There were several motivations as to why Democrats took this path, including their core belief that government knows better than people how to spend their own money, to reward special interests, and to attempt to lavish goodies on constituencies in order to assist reelection chances in this fall’s elections.

But the main reason was to make governing more difficult for the next governor, since chances are slim that a real Democrat will be elected (their best hope is a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat who would govern more as a conservative). They know Rep. Bobby Jindal is a big favorite to win, that Jindal would be the first genuine conservative to hold that office, and that he will force many necessary changes on the dysfunctional state government that run counter to the interests of liberalism and populism.

They also know that their power slowly is slipping away. They stand a good chance of losing the House this fall, and four successful years (including reapportionment) of conservative governance from Jindal probably would mean entire Legislative control passing to the Republicans for the foreseeable future. It is this possibility that mainly drives their budgetary decisions this session.

In this current budget, Democrats seek to set up a firewall of spending that will be politically difficult to reduce by a future governor, even as revenue rate of increase begin to decline faster than this spending rate will increase. Their ace in the hole is potential large new commitments for the Road Home program caused by Blanco’s mismanaging; if the state must next year ask the federal government for a bailout, the Democrat-controlled Congress which also has a vested interest in delaying the state’s ascendancy into Republican control can deny that and try to plunge the state into a fiscal crisis, further tarnishing the next administration even if it had nothing to do with creating the situation.

Depending upon the severity of the downturn and of the negligence concerning the Road Home, a Republican governor and potentially Republican House would face hard choices that could raise enough ire among the voting public to delay, if not reverse, the party’s electoral gains, Democrats today are hoping. Sweeter still would be if this could lead to the demise of Jindal’s political career, Jindal seen by national Democrats as a major threat on the national stage because of his ideology and the symbolism he brings that thoroughly discredits Democrats’ bankrupt liberal ideology.

Make no mistake about the end result of this Democrat-controlled budget process. What will come out of it reflects more the will and needs of the future of state and national Democrats that it does those of the people of Louisiana.

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