Search This Blog


Line item veto lessons unlikely learned by legislators

I have to ask a similar question as one posed in yesterday’s post: just how many Louisiana legislators are illiterate? More than a few, it would appear, from the rhetoric coming about the trimming Gov. Bobby Jindal inflicted on the state’s appropriations bills through the use of his line item veto power, and questions can be raised about their attention spans and abilities to do their jobs as well.

Some legislators complained that they didn’t have adequate “warning” about these cuts to their pet projects, which totaled 283 items worth over $25 million in direct costs. Well, if they could read, they did indeed have it, courtesy of an Apr. 30 memo Jindal sent outlining his four criteria for judging the merit of such projects slipped into the budget, they being the project must have a statewide or substantial regional impact; have been presented or openly discussed during the legislative session; be a state agency priority; and must have the proper disclosure form published online prior to consideration for funding.

It was that simple, and it’s clear that in reviewing projects in the cases of the vast majority of the vetoes that they unambiguously did not meet the criteria. Why is it that non-politicians can figure out the obvious, while the politicians can’t? Instead of blaming themselves, the ilk like state Sen. Joe McPherson (who already makes millions a year off the state) tried to blame Jindal, claiming he tried to score political points in a kind of set-up to have legislators forward projects so he could relish vetoing some.

Such a statement might be made not so much because of inattentiveness to what Jindal wrote, but because these politicians discounted it. Note that while many Republican-sponsored projects got slashed, almost all of the complaining is coming from Democrats concerning the Republican Jindal. This is because political motivations of Democrats and Republicans differ because of the differing political ideologies each tend to follow.

Conservatism, to which most Republicans adhere in more or less purer forms, wins in the marketplaces of ideas and policy outputs over liberalism, as logic and history demonstrate. Therefore, when Republican politicians tell what their policies will be and when based upon conservatism, they usually mean what they say. Democrats, on the other hand, at least the ones who want to get elected where there isn’t a large liberal majority in the electorate, knowing they lose on ideology, will try to obscure that aspect and regularly make policy pronouncements in vague, ambiguous ways, or speak outright contradictorily, saying one thing to get elected (witness Sen. Barack Obama) because it’s what they have to do to win, and then doing another once they have power.

Because they think that way, they believe all politicians act accordingly, including Republicans like Jindal. Perhaps now Jindal has somewhat disabused them of the notion that, legislators' pay raises aside, that he doesn’t say what he means.

And another question to ask legislators, from some whining they emitted, is whether they know how to do their jobs. For example, state Sen. Edwin Murray, who lost financing for a community center that has been in operation since 1976, bleated, “I don't understand why it was cut. It serves the only hot meal some people get every day.”

If the program was so valuable Murray, who’s been in the Legislature many years, long ago should have sponsored a bill to have the state fund and run the program or, at the very least, set up a bid process to contract out that function. Instead, this has operated in the shadows for over three decades without sufficient accountability or any real debate over the value of the program relative to other state needs. Murray, and others who think like this, are derelict in their jobs if now all they can do is gripe about this situation when they could have taken care of it long ago. (And despite being unable to do their jobs satisfactorily, many of them still wanted the Jindal-vetoed pay raise.)

A Republican, state Sen. Mike Michot, actually summed up best this angst on the part of mainly Democrat legislators: “Many of them who serve (in the Legislature), they serve for this very reason. They serve to be able to bring money back to their districts.” Which only goes to show such politicians have absolutely no clue as to the purpose of government and no business representing the people of Louisiana.

Government is there only to do what individuals and non-profits in their collective efforts cannot. It helps most by staying out of the way of people, the opposite of the constipated view of those described legislators who see government as a redistribution mechanism to suck the people’s resources from them in the hopes of redistributing funds to meet the twin goals of creating a world of the politician’s own choosing and to enhance their own political power.

Maybe Jindal’s vetoes will shake the redistributionist numbskulls to their senses. But somehow I doubt it.

No comments: