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Cowardly Edwards surrenders on SNAP policy

At least through election season, observers of Louisiana’s governor’s race can play “spot the hidden out-of-touch policy” by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Unvarnished and unhidden, Edwards is a solid liberal, well to the left on economic policy (although with national Democrats running amok and towards an electoral cliff, in the context of his party he seems almost revanchist) somewhat balanced by moderate views on select social issues. Such candidates if correctly perceived by the elected don’t win statewide elections in Louisiana.

So, since the end of the legislative session, it’s all been an exercise of obscuring from the state’s center-right public the leftist policy preferences of Edwards. Most obviously, he touts the elimination of mid-year budget deficits – which he accomplished through historically-high temporary tax increases that he swore during his previous campaign that he wouldn’t implement to fix the problem permanently that he didn’t, that now produce surpluses which prove his tax increases are too high. Of course, he doesn’t mention in his campaign communication the last part comprising of two broken promises in a failed attempt that succeeded only in growing government almost twice the rate of inflation.

But some others of Edwards’ take much more scrutiny to uncover, such as his reversal early in his term of his predecessor’s order  that ended waiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program requirements that able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) work, train for work, or volunteer – despite that states which have ended waivers enjoyed cost savings, reduced unemployment, and greater personal earnings among their peoples. Rather, he adopted a meaningless executive order that changed nothing.

Then, earlier this spring, the Republican Pres. Donald Trump Administration announced a SNAP rule change that would create more demanding requirements to use a waiver, bringing the program back to its original purpose to tide over the ABAWD population instead of serving as a long-term welfare benefit (because of waiver introduction during the Democrat Pres. Barack Obama Administration, now three-quarters of the 3.8 million ABAWD recipients exceed the statutory time limit for reception). Later during the summer, the Trump Administration proposed another change that would tighten overall eligibility, eliminating backdoor ways for recipients otherwise ineligible to enter the program and tying eligibility more closely to encouraging work.

In short, together these essentially would wipe out the Edwards policy of giving SNAP to ABAWD indefinitely with no strings attached. Yet not a peep has come from Edwards about this gutting of his SNAP implementation policy (who at the time of the earlier proposed change instead spent his taxpayer-paid time courageously haranguing the National Football League over a non-call).

That stands in stark contrast to most of his Democrat colleagues. Recently, the Democratic Governors Association released a statement opposing the latest proposed rule change, signed by most of its members. Edwards’ signature was conspicuous by its absence.

Bump these changes back a year each, and undoubtedly Edwards would have raised his voice in protest both times, because otherwise it makes him a hypocrite – if he really has faith in and stands by the objectives of his policy, he would try to defend these when they face obliteration. Instead, he’s merely a political coward, unwilling to stand up for what he believes.

And he’s a coward for two reasons during this election season. First, he doesn’t want to open a Pandora’s Box that encourages discussion of his SNAP implementation policy, such as justifying indefinite SNAP reception in Cameron Parish with its unemployment rate below the national average. Second, it makes more obvious his affinity with the far left national Democrats whose policy preferences absolutely repel the majority of Louisiana voters.

Thus, he deliberately tries not to draw attention to, if not to hide or at least distort the effects of, a number of his policies not embraced by Louisianans. Expect this game to continue well into November.

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