Search This Blog


Desperate Edwards pins hope on PR campaign

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ tax-and-spend budget-making strategy isn’t working, and panic in his camp is increasing as a result.

After setting down a supposedly hard-and-fast deadline on Jan. 19 to call a special session devoted to closing a projected roughly $1 billion budget deficit for next fiscal year, Edwards backed off from that when Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras essentially told him they would get back to him at his chamber majority’s leisure. This put Edwards in an unpalatable position, forcing him to write a budget with huge cuts and/or appending to it a series of tax increases, due Jan. 26.

By doing so, Edwards ends up owning both while the Republican-led House and Senate dissidents to GOP Sen. Pres. John Alario’s lapdog rule in concert with Edwards can criticize and present contrasts to his product. To avoid this and try to bully Republicans into endorsing his preferred cuts and tax hikes, Edwards has changed his offensive tactics.

It has ramped up a public relations effort that has seen boilerplate phrasing go out to Republican legislators allegedly from their constituents. These notes equate opposition to Democrats’ preferences as reeking of partisanship that prevents solving budgetary difficulties.

The theme continues in Governor’s Office notes sent to recipients it thinks might react favorably to that message. Those included an opinion piece Edwards wished to circulate among the state’s media and demands that GOP legislative leaders come up with their own specific ideas on this issue, implying again that failure to do so connotes putting partisan interests ahead of the state’s.

That messaging also linked to a favorable piece about Edwards’ position written by my Advocate colleague Tyler Bridges. The author managed to corral a couple of the handful of Republican House members loyal to Edwards and his agenda, with frustrated comedian state Rep. Kenny Havard opining that “The Republicans don’t want [Edwards] to have a win. The real losers are Louisiana citizens. We have to get beyond politics and solve the problems.”

If Havard thinks and Edwards maintains the Legislature’s leadership must come up with some detailed plan, they need to reread the Constitution, which clearly states the governor must submit a general appropriations bill followed by legislative consideration. He also may submit bills for raising revenue and use of those proceeds.

So, because the Constitution boxes Edwards into a corner on this matter that would expose his tax-and-spend philosophy, he hopes to have Republicans throw him a lifeline by using the “partisanship” narrative as a cudgel. But, to expand on Havard’s evaluation, it’s not that the GOP doesn’t want to give Edwards a win, it’s that most Republican legislators don’t want to have triumph Edwards’ agenda that is destructive to Louisiana. And if Havard can’t understand that, he’s demonstrably not a conservative, walks on all fours, and sports a large, boney proboscis.

Edwards and Democrat operatives angling for favorable media coverage, suggesting seminar letter writing, and sending out calls for action have become the latest, and most desperate attempt to push around Republicans opposed to keeping inflated government caused by Edwards’ policy choices. That all wraps into the Edwards strategy of creating a crisis and declaring noncooperation with him a product of electoral considerations, not of philosophical differences, because his agenda on its face is best for Louisiana.

What a joke. The legislative GOP should stay its course, make Edwards (and invite any individual legislators to join in to) come up with specific proposals, vet these, and then adjust spending to the outcomes. It could call its own special session if need be, but Edwards may not let it come to that anyway as he will not let himself become known as the governor who slashed what he claims are essential expenditures and additionally would lose control over the process if he let the Legislature set the special session agenda.

The desperate bluff. Call Edwards on it. He knows that, and thus foments the PR full-court press.

No comments: