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Carmouche avoids Obama, but sounds like him

Fourth District of Louisiana Democrat frontrunner Paul Carmouche had just one mission to perform in mopping up resistance to his nomination during the forum for that party’s candidates – say nothing specific without sounding like an empty suit – and to the casual Democrat voter probably pulled it off. Whether thinking voters bought the act is another matter entirely.

The former Caddo Parish district attorney of long standing apparently has thoroughly studied the Democrat playbook for the South – on the very few issues where he can be in agreement with the district, play those up, and on the majority where he cannot be without risking the ire of the liberal party to which he has pledged his loyalty, talk about only in the broadest platitudes without giving away the specifics that either would reveal his liberal credentials.

Other candidates in the race, even if both black candidates more enthusiastically support the national Democrats, get the cold shoulder from the party in its quest to prop up a figure to fool enough voters in a conservative district. In fact, if you wanted a Democrat who sounded much better versed on the issues – and as a result sounded more liberal – local lawyer John Milkovich took that prize. But because he is too much a social conservative even if simplistically liberal on most other preferences, despite previous runs for this office the national party would never dare support him.

On several occasions Carmouche proved he had been well-coached to say just enough to obfuscate without inviting closer scrutiny for the casual voter. He talked about making health care more affordable and available by creating “larger pools” of the insured. Translation: government involvement leading to mandates on individuals and employers ultimately creating universal health care that would provide a lower standard of care than present. He spoke of making prescription drugs more affordable and available by having government negotiate prices. Translation: the clout of government buying power for its programs would destroy the free market in drug provision and create dictates that would dry up supply and drive up prices

Outside health issues, he would revise school accountability standards, which he called failures even as improvement continues, to put power of determining the meeting of goals into the hands of local school boards. Translation: reform away from changes that would cut out gamesmanship by districts that were not serious about educating students in favor of pursuing other trendy goals (like enabling teachers to put forth less effort for higher wages as his teacher unions backers prefer) such as Orleans Parish had been for many years could undermine improving education in America. He also wants to “renegotiate” to restrict free trade agreements’ impacts on changing the American economy. Translation: unions losing members because their absurd demands help price that activity out of the world marketplace would be protected, driving up prices for Americans and creating a less efficient economy that would lead to a declining standard of living – but which would keep unions fat and happy.

The only area where he really got into trouble – even if neither the moderators nor his opponents had the wit to probe him on it – was being perhaps too specific in dealing with government finances. Carmouche first said he was for “no new taxes” then pledged “tax breaks” for those not in the highest brackets of marginal tax rates, echoing Democrat presidential presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s refundable tax credit plan that would take money out of the federal treasury and transfer it to those who pay little or no income taxes. This sounds like a recipe for a massive increase in the federal deficit as these recipients would do little to invest their bounty in ways to cause economic growth for all.

But then talking out of the other side of his mouth, Carmouche turned himself into a deficit hawk, declaring that government had a “spending problem,” had to balance the budget, and could do so by eliminating “wasteful spending” and earmarks. Nobody called him on where he would find a few hundred billion in wasteful spending or that earmarks don’t come close to this level, where he would cut spending to balance the budget, and that unless he cut all marginal rates, economic growth would not be stimulated as it was under GOP Pres. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush with their comprehensive cuts. Nor did anyone ask whether “no new taxes” meant the same as “no tax increase” (old taxes can be raised) nor how he would deal with the gaping hole his idea would create in the budget, impossibly squaring the circle.

These kinds of questions will have to wait until a Republican captures his party’s nomination, conservatives will have to hope. “Change for the better” proclaimed Carmouche in his closing statement, echoing Obama who he explicitly refused to endorse upon request during the forum. But shave 20 years off of him, darken his skin color, make his ears a little bigger, and make more flowery his vague, obscurant rhetoric, and the informed observer will note that despite the dissociation Carmouche and Obama are one and the same, one just as empty as the other.

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