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Back to the future appointment reminds of regression

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards made the old new with a recent appointment, continuing to demonstrate the retrogression his administration brings to Louisiana.

In agencies part of the Division of Administration, leaders serve at the pleasure of the governor, so with Edwards’ assuming the job at the beginning of the year, one by one heads selected by Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal, unless told not to by the incoming regime, stepped aside. For his pick to helm the Office of Group Benefits, which oversees employment benefits of state employees save for retirement matters, he chose former OGB Chief Executive Officer Tommy Teague.

Previously appointed by Democrat former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Jindal assented to him continuing in the job until he began to buck the Jindal Administration on streamlining the agency and reining in excess balances held back from ratepayers. Officials wanted to privatize most functions as had almost every state and to institute a more realistic reserve level; at around half a billion dollars, this was at least twice as high as industry norms, a trend Teague had tried to feed by asking for rate increases annually that DOA usually pared down considerably.

As a result, DOA replaced Teague, who then tried his best to halt the process through aiding a campaign of misinformation and baseless accusations made by legislative opponents of Jindal – with Edwards as one of the prime complainers. In the end, the transformation occurred and the state ended up saving over $100 million with ratepayers enjoying a 9 percent reduction in rates that would ameliorate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)-inspired unnecessary increases since.

Having resisted right-sizing government and letting state employees keep more of what they earned, what did Teague do for an encore? He slid on over to the Obamacare-established Louisiana Health Cooperative as one of its top executives, helping to preside over its predictable crash-and-burn given the flawed ideology behind its health care model that ensured its failure. This ended up costing federal taxpayers almost $66 million.

Not long after the collapse, Edwards attained the Governor’s Mansion, and so who better to try to reinvigorate big government at OGB than Teague? Of course, the agency has lost much of its power since his leaving so he has much less ability to expand this little corner of state government. Regardless, this signals the mentality of Edwards willing to grow government and Teague’s aggressiveness in using dubious tactics to protect a legacy of oversized government in Louisiana makes him a good choice for Edwards.

The appointment reminds of the back-to-the-future ethos of the Edwards Administration that runs counter to a majority of the electorate’s desire as indicated by the solid Republican majorities in the Legislature that will spend the next three years checking excesses that Edwards has tried and will try to foist upon the state in his quest to bring back the bad old days. Unfortunately, in a state struggling to recover from that legacy, this only will retard progress.

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