This was a little tempest in a teacup yesterday, but it’s worth passing along to note just how blatantly dishonest politics in Louisiana is going to be this year. Remember the pre-existing conditions bill which passed almost unanimously in the Louisiana legislature this spring? It’s a safety-valve for folks who have pre-existing medical conditions in the state, and who could conceivably find themselves without health insurance if and when the multistate lawsuit alleging the unconstitutionality of Obamacare pays off.
Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry joined that suit late last year. When Landry did, making Louisiana the 18th (or so) state to do so, Gov. John Bel Edwards pitched a fit over it, accusing Landry of putting 850,000 people out of health care coverage (the real number was only 90,000). Which was idiotic on a whole bunch of levels, among them being the fact that the suit existed before Landry joined it, so unless you think that Landry’s office is made up of lawyers so good they’d turn the tide of the court case all by themselves – and if you’re Edwards you might actually think that given how often he’s been beaten up in court by the Attorney General – Landry’s joining that suit has little effect on whether Obamacare gets struck down.
And, as Landry noted, if Obamacare is unconstitutional maybe that’s a poor reflection on Edwards that he supported it in the first place.
But Landry got together with House Speaker Taylor Barras, House Insurance Committee chair Kirk Talbot, Senate Health and Welfare Committee chair Fred Mills and Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, and the group worked up legislation which was a reasonably market-friendly guarantee that folks with pre-existing conditions could still get health insurance in case Obamacare was blown up in the courts as a result of the lawsuit (it’s already been blown up at the district level, and soon that ruling might be upheld by the 5th Circuit).
From the very beginning, Edwards screamed and bitched about that bill, going after Landry with some of the most vituperative rhetoric of his whole political career. And the governor backed a bill by Democrat state representative Chad Brown which would have essentially kicked health insurers – of whom there are entirely too few in Louisiana right now as things are – out of the state if they didn’t just eat the costs of covering people with pre-existing conditions. That bill never had a chance in the House, and the Insurance Committee killed it in no time flat.
But the bill Landry and his group put together, which ultimately was authored by Mills, sailed through the Senate on a 38-0 vote. Here’s what we said when it did…
The House is going to pass this thing just as unanimously, and then Edwards is going to sign it because otherwise he’s the jerk who hated 850,000 people (hey, that was his number after all) enough to screw up their health insurance just to make a mean point about Jeff Landry and his lawsuit.
At that point he’s either going to admit political defeat, which he has never done in his life, or he’s going to lie and take credit for the bill while he signs it. When he does the latter, don’t buy the spin coming out of his camp. He did nothing to aid this bill’s passage, he did nothing to help craft it and he deserves no credit for Louisiana coming up with a solution for Obamacare’s inevitable demise.
And after the House passed the bill with a 90-9 vote, Edwards did sign it. Of course he did – if he vetoed it, not only would he be that jerk who wanted to put 850,000 people (again, it’s more like 90,000, but 850K was Edwards’ number after all) out of health insurance just out of spite. And to make matters worse, with 38 votes in the Senate and 90 in the House in favor of SB 173, it’s pretty obvious his veto would have been overridden. At that point he’d not just be a jerk he’d be a totally ineffective jerk with egg all over his face.
What to do? That’s easy – you do exactly what we predicted you’d do, which is to lie and take credit for signing the bill.
Which Edwards did, and even the state’s media couldn’t stand the hypocrisy…
News: After calling the proposal a "fig leaf" aimed at saving @AGJeffLandry from embarrassment, @LouisianaGov has signed a bill aimed at eventually providing protections in the Affordable Care Act if it's overturned. #lalege #lagov https://t.co/PAB6MGcyBI via @theadvocatebr
— Sam Karlin (@samkarlin) June 21, 2019
Then the Democrat Governors Association proceeded to love on him for it.
— Democratic Governors (@DemGovs) June 25, 2019
That didn’t go over particularly well with Landry’s camp…
A Democratic campaign arm attempting to give John Bel Edwards credit for my Legislation, developed with Republican leaders, to protect pre-existing healthcare conditions without Obamacare. A bill he attacked. THAT'S RICH. Thank you for recognizing the bipartisan support. #lalege https://t.co/IH1a5L60xJ
— Jeff Landry (@JeffLandry) June 25, 2019
And the newspaper folks – amazingly – took Landry’s side…
.@LouisianaGov called this bill a "fig leaf" aimed at saving @AGJeffLandry from embarrassment and said "it does not protect adequately those in Louisiana…that have a preexisting health condition." After signing it, his staff said it "doesn't do any harm." #lagov #lalege https://t.co/iEzlsI94y4
— Sam Karlin (@samkarlin) June 25, 2019
Well, this is an interesting claim, since @LouisianaGov trash-talked this bill as offering little protection for people. Republican @AGJeffLandry was the one who promoted the bill. #lalege #lagov https://t.co/SKk0eF9aPY
— Melinda Deslatte (@MelindaDeslatte) June 25, 2019
I believe @LouisianaGov has repeatedly said this legislation, backed by @AGJeffLandry, won't do much to protect anyone's health insurance. Yes, he signed the bill. But he didn't seem happy about signing it. He wouldn't even say he was signing it for awhile. #lalege #lagov https://t.co/tfdbUNvKNg
— Julia O'Donoghue (@JSODonoghue) June 25, 2019
So far, it doesn’t really look like the DGA is going to help Edwards a whole lot. When even his usual allies in the local media are so put off by the obvious lies the DGA is trying to tell (this might be an example of low-grade political hacks bumbling into trouble because they don’t actually know what’s going on than true mendacity, but it plays the same way), they’re more a hindrance than an asset to him.
But there’s a lot of that going around for Edwards, who increasingly has the look of a ruptured duck as he attempts to crank up his re-election bid this fall.