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Jindal wise to continue rejection of exchange, expansion

Despite adverse election results that signaled no fundamental change was coming to the flawed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), the Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration correctly continues to opt out of both expansion of Medicaid eligibility and the establishment of health care exchanges optional under the law.

Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein informed the federal government of rejection of the latter, after Jindal immediately after the recent reelection of Pres. Barack Obama didn’t respond to calls from the political left to rethink his position on the former. Overall, state-run health exchanges don’t make medical economic sense, and, among other things such as they would force applying the employer mandate and beggar the private insurance market while driving up costs to individuals, they would cost states additional money to run them.

While those costs then would get paid by the federal government, this means in aggregate there are no savings nationally and some would be passed on to Louisiana taxpayers. But there is no money appropriated for the federal government to do that, and every state that opt outs increases those costs, making it easier for a Republican House of Representatives to ensure that Obamacare is partially or totally defunded, rendering it unable to operate at its 2014 target date except for its more popular and sensible mandates. Therefore, in pursuit of the goal of negating the harmful effects of Obamacare, the more states that opt out of exchanges, the better.


Fine recall scofflaws to present teachable moment

Perhaps one major reason why Louisiana elementary and secondary education has so underwhelmed is too many educators are like many of the children they teach who need discipline – spoiled, unaccountable, and not all that bright. Those characteristics are on full display in the attempt by teachers who filed failed recall petitions against Gov. Bobby Jindal and House Speaker Chuck Kleckley to get fines waived for violations of campaign finance law.

Behind the Kleckley ousting attempt, the explanation for why the required report on it was 56 days late according to Brenda Romero is (cue violins) “she misunderstood the filing requirements for filing the report…. She simply did not understand that she was obligated to file a report within 45 days of filing the recall petition…. she contacted the Campaign Finance division for clarity. She spoke with staff, and was under the impression that if small amounts were collected from individuals, then she was under no obligation to report it at the moment. She maintains that staff answered all of her questions and did everything to help her understand, however, she obviously misunderstood. Ms. Romero maintains that it was not until when she saw a media report that claimed she failed to report in a timely fashion, that she knew she missed a deadline.”

And here’s the excuse from the one behind the Jindal attempt, Angie Bonvillian (cue violins again): “the group of four teachers that started the recall effort, did not know what they were getting into. She further stated that the first letter they received about the start of the recall had information that they did not know was important. She states that she read the letter, but did not really understand it. She maintains that they did not know that they were obligated to file a report within 45 days of filing the recall petition. Ms. Bonvillian maintains that it was not until when she read an article by a reporter that she understood the filing requirements. She states that she then contacted the Campaign Finance division for clarity. She spoke with staff, and asked more about the filing deadlines. Ms. Bonvillain states that had she known and understood the importance of filing the report, the 45 day report would have been filed.”


Study shows not much racism, but researcher carelessness

Maybe it’s a story about the ever-declining ability of people to think critically. Or perhaps just one where analysis gets overwhelmed by wishful ideological thinking. Regardless, Louisiana meriting a small mention in this effort brings to this work rigorous analysis that leads to the dismissal of its narrative.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune (or what’s left of it) picked up on a piece, mentioned in several, mostly trendy lefty, media sites, about an investigation of Twitter microblog communications (“tweets”) by a group of geographers in the runup to election day last week that contained what they coded as “racist” in nature. It proclaimed that Louisiana was the fifth-highest location of such tweets, at 3.3 times the norm.

The idea found its inspiration from the website Jezebel, not exactly celebrated for the analytical quality nor the intellectual heft of its post-feminist contents and writing (as of this writing, its lead article weighed the question no doubt every intelligent woman of high self-esteem routinely ponders, “Some Things to Consider When You Think You Want to be a Prostitute”), where somebody bored enough decided to collect some post-election tweets with decidedly anti-black language. The geographer crowd at a group called Floatingsheep picked up on it, produced results and extended commentary, pronouncing conclusions echoing a mildly ersatz version of the identity politics/post-Marxism all too prevalent coming from academia: “Racist behavior, particularly directed at African Americans in the U.S., is all too easy to find both offline and in information space.”


Paper misses real story behind Supreme Court contest

Last week, this space mused whether the reason Republican Appellate Court Judge Jeff Hughes outpaced Republican rivals in the contest for the Fifth District seat to the Louisiana Supreme Court was because he dared express support for issue preferences. Apparently, this caught the eye of the Baton Rouge Advocate which proceeded to run a story that implied something must not be right with this, even as it uncritically accepted his runoff opponent Democrat Appellate Court Judge John Michael Guidry’s explanation for his success.

The piece reviewed the content of Hughes television ads and statements and said they “contrasted” with Louisiana’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which in Canon 7A(10) states that a judge or judicial candidate shall not “make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending in any Louisiana state court.” But, as Hughes pointed out, in saying he supports gun rights, the traditional definition of marriage, and capital punishment merely echoes existing Louisiana statutory and constitutional law, and if these were to change he would follow whatever changes occurred in his adjudication.

Further, during his campaign Hughes never addressed any specific pending matters, making the application of the canon in question moot in this case. Finally, as Hughes also mentioned (and one would hope as a sitting judge he knew of this), the U.S. Supreme Court in Republican Party of Minn. v. White (2002) ruled that judicial candidates had a right to express opinions on issues of the day, as expression does not imply a judge would not apply the law even-handedly, that the state cannot presume that judges do not have predispositions about issues that may come before a court, and nor do those expressions if made create any kind of promissory situation that would bias case decision-making.


Remove reform opponents' only recourse by attentiveness

The predictable passage of the contract to hire a third-party administrator for the state-run employee and retiree health care plan was unremarkable, but the maneuvering and recriminations before were not and are illustrative.

This contract, now estimated to save the state in administrative costs anywhere from $11 to 18.3 million (the back-of-the-envelope calculations done last year in this space predicted $17.3 million in savings), came out approved by a joint House Appropriations/Senate Finance Committees meeting a week after it appeared the House portion would reject it. Then, the House panel voted to bring the matter to a vote where it appeared in would be defeated, causing proponents to withdraw it for slight modifications.

Eight days later it passed, but with some wacky things happening in the interim. Seven Republicans, six of whom might ordinarily be expected to vote for a conservative policy preference such as this privatization of administration, essentially voted against it then, as a symbol of other grievances against the Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration. As a result, Jindal ally Speaker Chuck Kleckley moved against two of them and booted them off the committee. The two new members subsequently voted in favor and most of the remaining defectors, although state Rep. Brett Geymann didn’t bother to show up for the vote and state Rep. Rogers Pope, the least reliable of the Republicans, remained against.