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In search of hypocrites, Melancon need only look in mirror

With his latest published comments, one must wonder just what kind of cipher has been going on three terms representing Louisiana’s Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives, who doesn’t have the intellect to understand he does exactly what he accuses political opponents of doing.

In an interview, Democrat U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon accused Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of being “hypocritical” in his televised response to the speech given by Democrat Pres. Barack Obama last month that touted an unprecedented increase in the amount of federal government spending and the deficit. Jindal had noted that he would refuse, as was his option, some spending directed to expanding the scope of unemployment benefits because of a tax increase they would entail that would depress economic activity. Melancon said this left him “puzzled” because Jindal had, as a congressman, voted for extending the time period for employment benefits to be received by people losing their jobs because of the destruction of the hurricane disasters of 2005, thereby to him meriting Jindal the “hypocritical” label.

But the puzzlement of Melancon is itself puzzling to anybody who can think clearly. The hurricanes wiped out a tremendous segment of productive capacity in the state for an extended period of time, unlike the current situation where productive capacity remains only slightly diminished. Further, then Jindal argued only for an extension of benefits, while now he fights an extension of coverage – two very different things that Melancon seems unable to distinguish.

More puzzling still is the utter lack of logic he expresses in his argument why Jindal ought to take the money and its conditions anyway – that the state’s unemployment trust fund may be more likely to run low because of increased demand the solution to which could be an increase in taxes on business anyway. Let’s see, take the money now and raise taxes for some job-killing into the indefinite future, as Melancon argues, or refuse that extra portion which can only go to the expanded purpose, accept the extra funds to cover the present scope of policy, and if any taxes have to be raised down the road they will be much more minimal, as Jindal suggests? If Melancon really believes his alternative is better, it only solidifies his big-government credentials.

Perhaps this explains why Melancon also appears to lack the capacity to understand just such a large hypocrite he is on the issue of government spending. Melancon regularly tries to convey the impressive that he is not a tax-and-spend liberal. Yet he voted for the budget-crippling spending package that denies every principle on this score that he claims to represent and tries to defend that by a display of ignorance of history, making the discredited argument that the big-government New Deal got the country out of the Depression when in fact it made matters worse (besides the historical record, common sense should tell him that a set of policies that depressed economic indicators more towards the end of the period than its beginning and lasted over a decade didn’t work).

Yet Melancon can’t dig a hole on this issue fast enough when he also tried to draw a parallel between economic conditions assumed these days by Obama and those inherited from the Democrat Pres. Jimmy Carter era, oblivious to the fact that Republican Pres. Ronald Reagan’s policies that brought the country out of the most severe recession other than the Depression in the twentieth century are exactly the opposite of those he now proposes – Reagan’s being broad-based and permanent tax cuts, restraint of government spending in many areas, and slashing regulation.

In a state known for its slick, vacuous politicians, Melancon seems determined to set a new standard on this account. And if he’s willing to go looking for elected hypocrites in the state, every time he passes by a mirror he need only look into it to find one.

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