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2020 results presage rough ride for Edwards

If Georgia U.S. Senate runoff results hold up, Democrats may have won somewhat increased policy-making power nationally, but in Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards ends up the eventual loser.

Should the final vestiges of the 2020 election play out this way, it will produce the narrowest majority margins in the country’s history. Democrats will control the House by only eight votes, where any defection of four scuttles their plans. The Senate ends up evenly split, ultimately decided by just a few thousand votes out of four million cast, and incoming Pres. Joe Biden essentially won the office by about 43,000 votes in three states.

Don’t expect Democrats to acknowledge they won in a photo finish. They know the history that in the last two of their administrations they lost an average of 57 House seats and seven Senate seats two years after a member of their party reached the White House initially. They will go for broke in the vain thinking (of some) that suddenly a history of bad policy magically goes against type and works to allow them to keep a Congressional majority in 2022, or (with others) at least getting in as much damage as possible before being shown the door for the next several years.

However, they won’t get too far. With their razor-thin majorities and already Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia saying he won’t go for extreme measures such as eliminating filibusters, increasing the number of states, and surrendering to the fantasies of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming crowd, Congress won’t set much more into law beyond the transient executive actions that Biden can take.

But what they will be able to do will, over the long haul, destroy Edwards’ political career and any positive legacy he hoped to leave. That process begins on a more optimistic note, hiding that this merely postpones and intensifies negatively a future day of reckoning.

Election results will stymie the left in many ways, but not in its ability to authorize running of the printing presses constantly at the Bureau of Engraving. At the very least, deficit spending will take a jump upwards with a tranche of that going to subsidize state profligacy during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Louisiana under Edwards, but aided by its Republican Legislature, committed some of the worst offense in that regard, shoveling around $1 billion of one-time bailout money to expand government while setting none of that aside to replenish a depleted unemployment trust fund.

Edwards needlessly aggravated the situation with a science-ignoring, overly-restrictive approach to the pandemic, emulating his fellow chief executive Democrats who simultaneously wish to suppress deliberately people’s abilities to earn a living that would their encourage dependency on liberal elites and government while prolonging the crisis (as “flattening the curve” of infection also means extending its duration) to keep the strategy intact. Democrat control of the Senate (don’t expect them to acquiesce to a power-sharing arrangement like that of  2001) means money will flow freely to prop up states regardless of the degree of recklessness they have shown in handling money.

Yet the problem for Edwards is Democrats can’t keep this up. They might get away with it for next fiscal year, but with the pandemic evaporating in the U.S. by mid-year due to acquisition of herd immunity and vaccines, that momentum will slow as even a handful of Democrats skittish about reelection will put the brakes on this kind of unrestrained spending. If his political ambitions include a stab at the Senate against Republican John Kennedy, and given his tax-and-spend record which indicates he’ll not pare government, state government will face a monstrously-sized deficit starting in mid-2022 – right in the middle of that campaign.

And other factors will make it worse. Democrats likely will boost the minimum wage to around $10 an hour, up around 30 percent from Louisiana’s current level. This will kill jobs but especially those in the sectors the Louisiana economy disproportionately depends upon such as tourism – the same areas which made the state’s economy the most vulnerable to the pandemic. They also might pursue federal income tax increases, which because of Louisiana’s state income tax break on federal income taxes paid will suck even more revenue from state coffers.

National Democrats might pull back on that idea, however, because it runs counter to their crisis narrative in that they don’t want to be seen hiking taxes with so much economic distress caused by the virus. For that same reason, Edwards can’t propose his long-sought corporate or personal higher-income tax increases to make up the state’s looming deficit, and additionally he can’t because it destroys his narrative that his sales tax increase policy has brought “stability” to state finances. The only thing worse than running for the Senate while making big cuts to state government is asking for yet another tax increase to ameliorate that after having assured voters he had solved everything.

Edwards’ bungled handling of the pandemic plus this coming headwind, which has built over the years because of his policies that have put the state behind the curve, gives him a steeply uphill climb to have any political career after leaving the Governor’s Mansion. The impending economic slowdown stemming from Democrats’ (mostly) control of all branches of government that especially negatively will impact Louisiana’s fiscal fortunes all but guarantees that and ensures Edwards will leave office with a legacy of tax increases and budget cuts, illuminating harshly the lost opportunity the state had to make progress during his eight years at the helm – and thus his record for posterity.

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