Search This Blog


Plenty of posturing, little intellect present in funds request

Partisan politics is alive and well with Democrat leaders in Louisiana’s Senate arguing for a ploy ill-conceived, counterproductive to the good of the state, and whose only impact would be symbolic to sow division and thereby try to embarrass Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The contretemps has developed because Jindal refuses to accept about $98 million of federal dollars from the supplemental spending package that trebled the annual debt passed by the Democrat Congress and signed into law by Democrat Pres. Barack Obama. These would pay for the state to give unemployment insurance benefits to people who are not involuntarily separated from their jobs, an extra $15 a week per dependent, and add 26 weeks worth to benefits to those in training programs after having been laid off from a “declining” industry.

The problem is the money lasts only two years and then the state is on the hook for it – meaning state businesses and workers, who are assessed money out of payrolls to fund the program. Further, not only would one of these three conditions have to be changed in state law, the period for which eligibility may be established also would have to be changed in state law, creating a permanent obligation that expands the program. Jindal rejected the money because he did not think the permanence served the state well.

In response, the Legislature’s Democrat delegation leaders state Sen. Eric LaFleur wants the chambers to pass a resolution directing Jindal to accept the funds. Of course, this accomplishes nothing substantive because the legal changes that have to be made can be vetoed by Jindal, and the fact is even if all Democrats joined in this effort, enough loyal Republicans exist who like Jindal (who must think this but won’t publicly admit it) recognize the expansion is bad public policy who would deny the two-thirds vote needed to override any such veto. The matter is entirely moot.

Nonetheless, LaFleur provided some reasons for the effort, which turn out to be illogical and make little sense to anybody who studies them for more than a nanosecond. First, in a problem seemingly confounding Democrats on a regular basis, LaFleur doesn’t seem to understand definitions. Even though the federal statute notes that there must be a “permanent law” in effect or else the monies expended by the states must be returned, LaFleur claims passing a law, then removing it after the federal dollars expire, makes that 18-month-lasting law a “permanent law.”

Of course, the dictionary definition – “continuing or enduring without fundamental or marked change – entirely disagrees with that conceptualization. While we can agree that few things truly are “permanent” in that sense, a little logic and common sense – admittedly, some things that neither LaFleur nor a Republican(-in-name-only) senator in agreement with him Robert Adley have shown much of in the past – tells us a law on the books for two years is not a “permanent” law.

Even more interestingly, note the implications of LaFleur’s argument in regards to the merits of unemployment policy. To reiterate, he publicly advocates changing the law now to accept the money, then restrict benefits again in two years with a changing back of the law. So, in other words, for now it’s a good thing to pay for people not to work because they have some “valid” excuse to work, but in two years it isn’t? Good luck in finding the logic in that feeble thinking.

(Naturally, the mental denseness LaFleur shows here is because he is trying to set a political trap for Jindal without it being blatantly obvious – everybody knows once a group acquires benefits from the government it becomes difficult to remove them because even small groups who per person get significant benefits along with ideologically compatible policy-makers usually have enough power to prevent the unmobilized mass public which pays per person microscopically to fund these from becoming aroused enough to be able to force the change. Jindal clearly knows this and while he won’t bring the matter up, it’s got to be part of his rationale for opposing. Unless LaFleur pledges in two years he will vote to restore the law, he is nothing more than a posturing hypocrite.)

LaFleur also apparently doesn’t want acceptance to occur because he agrees with the policy – his letter to colleagues did not seem to address that – but because he wrote “If we reject these funds, Louisiana taxpayers will be paying to subsidize and support unemployment compensation in states such as California.” This is muddled thinking for two reasons – first because even if beneficiaries would be current the payers would not be as this entire operation is debt-financed, and second because the burden on (future) wealth-producing Louisianans will be less if the contemplated redistribution of wealth does not occur because then that money will not have to be borrowed and paid back with interest. It doesn’t matter what other states do; Louisiana saves its citizens by not implementing this policy (which is bad anyway for its productivity- and job-killing aspects).

So not only is the argument that LaFleur advances moot because of Jindal’s veto power, it’s an unintelligent one to begin with. It’s only purpose therefore is to create division and try to make Jindal look bad – hardly the positive kind of policy-making we need out of our elected officials.

No comments: