From The Hill today comes news that Senate Democrats are watering down Obama’s jobs bill – not in hopes of actually passing it, but in hopes of getting enough Democrats on board so as to pin its failure on Republican intransigence either due to a Senate filibuster or failure of passage in the House.
And Majority Leader Harry Reid, it seems, has managed to bring aboard one of the usual suspects…
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is now leaning toward voting for the bill. Landrieu had opposed eliminating oil and gas tax breaks in order to pay for Obama’s bill. She has touted the removal of these provisions.
In other words, Landrieu is once again happy to toe the Democrat party line so long as she can do it in a way which is only just as bad for Louisiana as it is for the rest of the country. The economy would suffer mightily from a 5.6 percent tax on million-dollar salaries, the earners of which will in turn take steps to hide that income from the government and in so doing drain capital from the productive economy, but Louisiana’s oil and gas producers won’t be hit in particular.
Just in general.
This is of a piece with Landrieu’s “Louisiana Purchase” Obamacare vote, in which she secured a bribe to the state of some $300 million or so in order to vote for the destruction of the private health insurance market and state budgets from sea to shining sea with the rapid expansion of Medicaid – a vote which has led to horrendous consequences for Louisiana in terms of its federal matching funds formula with the state facing a $567 million shortfall by 2013. Landrieu says that’s a mistake and that the Feds have it wrong, and perhaps she’s correct – except she voted for the legislation which made the mistake possible.
So it’s a bit difficult to feel sorry for Mary; she might have thought she was getting a good deal for Louisiana by throwing in with the left wing after chiseling them some, but in the end bad legislation has bad consequences.
Landrieu also voted for Obama’s stimulus plan which didn’t stimulate Louisiana’s economy one bit. What that stimulus plan did was to dump about a billion dollars into the state’s coffers so as to prop up a level of public spending we could not afford based on tax revenues. Those funds covered the cost of state employees Louisiana needed to downsize; it’s a fair criticism of Gov. Bobby Jindal that he took Landrieu’s bait and sided with Senate president Joel Chaisson (a Democrat) to spend the stimulus money rather than commence the trimming of state government the Republican-led House wanted. But that’s not an excuse for Landrieu; taxpayers in Louisiana suffer from the increase in the federal debt she voted for just like taxpayers across the country suffer, and temporarily propping up unsustainable state spending didn’t do anything to improve Louisiana.
Now we’ve got her leaning toward a yes-vote on Stimulus 2, which is recognized as a dead letter on Capitol Hill.
The question at this point is whether Landrieu is just playing out the string on her Senate career. It has been posited that these recent party-line votes despite the damage they’ve done to Louisiana and the unpopularity of them among the state’s electorate amount to a watered-down “take one for the team” play. In other words, Landrieu is sticking it to Louisiana, albeit as artfully as she can by getting the $300 million on Obamacare, for example, or removing the tax punishment for the oil and gas industry in the current bill, in return for some greater reward down the line. Votes like these will make her largely unelectable; Landrieu has never carried more than 52 percent in the three Senate elections she’s won, and by 2014 she likely faces a who’s-who of Louisiana Republican stars lining up to take a shot at her.
And under those circumstances perhaps she recognizes running again is futile, and the smart move is to plan for a career outside the Senate. D.C. being friendlier territory for Democrats than Louisiana, maybe she’s playing along with the liberals in charge of Washington in preparation for a lucrative future after her senatorial tenure expires.
But you can’t be seen as completely turning your back on your state; doing that would provoke a nasty response that would damage your cache’ with the Beltway elite. Nobody likes a loser, and were Landrieu to be run out of Louisiana on a rail she’d lose star power. So she needs a bone or two. Or 300 million of them.
One way or another, the state’s Republicans need a solid candidate to run against Landrieu and beat her in 2014. Even if she chooses not to run for re-election, a solid Republican to take over that seat would go a long way toward stopping any further lousy legislation like Obamacare or the current “jobs bill” from passing – sweeteners and facades notwithstanding.