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Trump picks portend good things for Louisiana

The news just keeps getting better for Louisianans regarding the shape of the incoming Pres.-elect Donald Trump Administration, with the selection of Dr. Ben Carson as Sec.-designate of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Before that pick, dating prior to the Republican’s election last month, Louisiana experienced a steady stream of good news regarding the assumed direction of national public policy under a Trump Administration. Tapping significant anthropogenic climate change realist Myron Ebell to direct incoming environmental policy and personnel meant a step back away from the punitive, ideologically-driven Environment Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases, challenged in court by Louisiana, and in approving of pipelines that would bring substantial energy resources to the state for processing and export. It also means putting a lid on alarmism by the federal government on the hydraulic fracturing process of extracting energy, which plagued efforts in some parts of the state.

Naming Republican Rep. Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services will help Louisiana pull back from the after-effects of ruinous Medicaid expansion. If that survives at all, it likely would come in a form of vouchers backed by block grants that allow states to shape their coverage parameters and responsibility, perhaps along the lines of the plan initially offered by incoming Vice Pres. and current Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence rejected by the federal government.

Perhaps the biggest home run came with the appointment of education reform advocate Betsy DeVos as Department of Education secretary. That should signal a further pullback from federal government direction over states’ power to educate, concomitant with the Every Student Succeeds Act currently under implementation by Louisiana and other states (and driven by ardent reformer incoming House Education and the Workforce chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx). Better, reforms popularized by DeVos have become mainstays of the state’s education system, despite opposition from Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. The seriousness of the setback suffered by him and his allies planning retrogression of Louisiana education became clear when one opponent wrote misleadingly in a sympathetic media outlet about DeVos’ past activities.

Now comes Carson, who brings a warranted skepticism to using housing policy as a form of social engineering. Most unnerving to those who favor that in New Orleans, it portends change in rules that encouraged the city to set up a plan to export poverty and values associated with it across the city. This set off a litany of complaints about picking Carson, who, unlike most of his detractors, actually grew up in poverty and understands that the values associated with it overwhelmingly drive housing patterns and opportunities, not extraneous factors such as racial attitudes.

His selection might qualify as the icing on the cake, but when Trump announces a nominee for Homeland Security, chances are it will throw yet another spanner into the works of New Orleans public policy. Trump made clear in his campaign that sanctuary cities such as New Orleans and Orleans Parish will lose federal funding, and his prior nomination of Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General reinforces that point.

While these local governments allege they would have to circumvent a court order to reverse these policies, in fact the details to these largely come from U.S. Department of Justice guidance that will change with the ascension of Sessions. Combine this with a DHS secretary willing to enforce the law and executive orders by Trump ending preferential programs for illegal aliens, and New Orleans will have no legal justification for its bias towards noncitizen lawbreakers.

The fruition of these events in two months will put Louisiana in a much better space than it was a month ago. If these live up to promises, exciting times for the state lie ahead.

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