Do We Have Adult Babies In Louisiana?

It sounds a little like we do.

To set the stage for this, we need to reference the adult-baby guy we talked about last week – a dysfunctional nut out in California who hangs around his house in an XXXXL onesie and poops in an oversized diaper, all on your dime courtesy of a Social Security disability check he’s been drawing for the last 10 years.

That was the perfect illustration of how over the top the entitlement mentality has become in this country. The AP poll out today in which three out of five Americans say “Naw, we don’t need to change Medicare at all to balance the budget” is another; the people who answered that poll are completely delusional if they think major changes to Medicare aren’t coming one way or another. But since they perceive Medicare changes would be bad for them, they ignore the math.

It looks like we’ve got a cross of both of those two examples today in the reaction to the Louisiana House of Representatives’ budgetary proposal to strip $82 million out of the state’s Economic Development Megafund in an effort to put the state budget into balance. Bear in mind, the majority of that sum covers an earmark that has been in place for the project formerly known as V-Vehicle and currently known as Next Autoworks, which supposedly would convert the old Guide headlights plant in Monroe into a car factory.

V-Vehicle never got off the ground, because it was attempting to generate its startup capital through cash from Louisiana taxpayers using the Megafund and a loan of some $320-350 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. Local politicians from the Ouachita Parish Council all the way up to Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Mary Landrieu have seemed both baffled and dismayed at DOE’s refusal to grant the loan since it was first sought in 2009, which is baffling and dismaying to us here at the Hayride.

After all, V-Vehicle/Next Autoworks’ value proposition is supposedly the ability to create a fuel-efficient, mass-market car that will sell for as low as $10,000 per unit. That sounds like a claim straight out of fantasyland; to the extent it’s even remotely possible it would depend on very favorable labor costs. Y’know, the kinds of labor costs you can only realize from a non-union plant.

Did anybody really think the Obama White House, the one Richard Trumka has made himself part of the furniture in, is going to loan $300 million to some company which is going to compete with GM and Chrysler with a non-union plant in a right-to-work state? The Obama White House which is trying to stop Boeing from adding a production line in South Carolina because the workers there chose not to be unionized? That White House is going to give V-Vehicle $300 million?

Come on. Not gonna happen.

It’s been two years and there’s no movement on V-Vehicle. The House of Representatives realizes this, so they’re moving on. They’re taking that money and using it to patch holes in the budget, which is eminently sensible.

You’d expect a little pushback on this from the various players, most notably Louisiana Economic Development secretary Steven Moret – who’s extremely good at what he does, though a lot of what he does is fundamentally flawed. The Monroe News-Star freaked out about this last week in an editorial, which wasn’t surprising…

The House Appropriations Committee has just sent a message of the worst kind to business interests around the world:

“Yes, we’ll create an incentive megafund for economic development. And yes, we’ll commit funds to projects. But if times get tough and we have to balance our budget, we’re going to renege.”

The committee raided the fund to the tune of $82 million this week to offset budget cuts. The Department of Economic Development has committed, and the Legislature has appropriated, a $67 million incentive to the Next Autoworks project in Monroe that awaits word on a U.S. Energy Department Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan. If that project comes to fruition, it means 1,400 jobs in northeastern Louisiana.

Withdrawing the money will kill that deal.

The deal was already dead, guys, for the reasons outlined above.

But today, the Baton Rouge Business Report has even more outlandish whining – this time from the heads of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Greater New Orleans, Inc., who are among eight regional economic development outfits screaming about the Megafund cuts…

“Raiding the Megafund is a declaration of war on job creation in Louisiana,” the groups say in a joint statement. “Should this action stand, voters will see it as the most harmful anti-jobs action of the Legislature in this century.” The statement says Louisiana Economic Development already has pledged the money as part of its recruitment efforts, and “flip-flopping” now would send the message that Louisiana can’t be trusted. The statement also says $3 million in cuts to LED’s budget could jeopardize regional marketing, small business services and the FastStart worker training program, although LED has said FastStart will be protected.

A “declaration of war?” Who wrote that drivel?

Louisiana needs to close a $1.6 billion budget deficit. That means if you’re getting money from the state, regardless of what it’s for, you should expect to get less this year. And since $67 million of that $82 million is money which will never be spent, what these guys are really complaining about is a 15 million budget cut.

$15 million in cuts to the program which bribes corporations from outside of Louisiana to locate their business operations here is not “the most harmful anti-jobs action of the Legislature in this century.” It’s a recognition that the state government doesn’t have the ready cash to lavish on well-heeled folks looking for government swag in order to site a business here, without regard to whether our power costs, tax environment, legal system or labor force are superior to those of competing states. (Hint: if you need to bribe those folks to attract them, you’ve got far deeper problems than LED can fix).

This is the Chamber of Commerce equivalent of the adult-baby guy out in California who threatened to kill himself over a check from Social Security. And the casting of a modest $15 million cut, which would still leave LED with over $40 million in cash to fund its operations and attempt to entice companies to locate here, as a declaration of war on job creation is the kind of mathematically-challenged statement which brings to mind the people in that AP poll who refuse to understand that massive budget deficits mean Medicare is going to get cut regardless of their preferences.

We’ll put aside the offensive suggestion that job creation depends on state largesse to LED and local chambers of commerce and instead simply express our disappointment that groups who purport to represent business interests and the productive class would engage in the kind of shameless whining usually reserved for welfare queens and adult babies. And we’ll express hope that today’s contemptible display leads the Jindal administration to distance itself from opposition to the House’s budgetary plan on that $82 million.



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