GURVICH: Does John Bel Edwards Really Think We’re That Stupid?

John Bel Edwards arrived on the statewide political scene in 2015, after serving two terms in the Louisiana House in relative obscurity. A Democrat trial lawyer with a tax-and-spend legislative history and the usual suspect allies (teacher and public sector unions, plaintiff trial lawyers, etc.), one could have predicted the direction his administration would take.

However, he assured us that he was a “moderate” Democrat and would govern accordingly, reforming our broken government and thereby avoiding the need to raise taxes (in his own words). Indeed, had he not made these constantly-repeated assurances throughout his campaign, he would most certainly not have been elected.

So let’s examine his record in office and his recent campaign “claims to fame” since he was inaugurated as Louisiana’s fifty-sixth governor on January 18, 2016:

JOHN BEL EDWARDS HAS GOVERNED AS A “MODERATE” DEMOCRAT? Sure, he’s pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and he’s a military veteran. Fine, but those issues alone don’t make one a moderate. What about smaller government (which would entail major government reform in our case), lower taxes, and encouraging business growth and job opportunities for the people of Louisiana? Here are the plain facts: Taxes are way up, the state’s oil and gas industry is being destroyed by lawsuits and over-regulation, and Louisiana’s percentage increase in government spending is the highest in the nation! Don’t even bother to ask about the government reforms we were promised…

JOHN BEL EDWARDS’ RESCUED THE STATE’S FINANCES? John Bel Edwards says that he “inherited” a $2B budget deficit from Bobby Jindal. How did he arrive at that huge number? He made it up by counting into this fictitious deficit all the budget items his administration demanded  from the legislature, knowing full well that most of these requests were unrealistic and were unlikely to be taken seriously by the legislature. Then he claimed that he didn’t know things were so bad when he took office. That was the neat little excuse he needed to break his campaign promise to the people of Louisiana that he would not raise their taxes. Problem is, John Bell Edwards was a legislator who voted for most of Governor Jindal’s budgets. Full disclosure – he actually helped negotiate those budgets! He knew perfectly well that the state had a deficit because oil and gas prices had sharply declined. He also knew that the real deficit was nowhere near $2B, but that’s what he told us anyway.

JOHN BEL EDWARDS GAVE US A $300M BUDGET SURPLUS? John Bel Edwards brags about this incessantly, but achieving a surplus with a huge raise in taxes is nothing to be proud of. Our tax burden is now higher than our Southern neighbors, and our sales taxes are effectively the highest in the nation. High taxes simply take money from the citizenry to give to the state, and drive businesses away in the bargain. A poor state like Louisiana can’t attract new business and better jobs while taxes are so high, and we won’t have a surplus much longer anyway, as you’ll soon read, below.

WHITHER THE PROMISED GOVERNMENT REFORMS? Achieving a surplus by enacting reforms and making the nation’s most bloated state government more efficient, now that would be a real accomplishment! Come to think of it, that’s exactly what Governor Edwards promised us in 2015. Fact is, he and his Democrat friends in the legislature have fought tooth and nail against every attempt at reform since the day he took office. This failure explains the need for the biggest tax increase in Louisiana’s history, and you can be assured that more tax increases will soon be necessary, because of…

JOHN BEL EDWARDS’ WILDLY SUCCESSFUL MEDICAID EXPANSION PROGRAM? Over 500,000 Louisianans have received medical coverage under John Bel Edwards’ Medicaid Expansion program, so we are told. Oh, wait a moment… it appears that about 58,000 of these Medicaid recipients didn’t belong in the program and have already been kicked off the rolls! And the full audit won’t be completed until 2020, after the election, when many tens or hundreds of thousands more will likely be struck from the rolls. That’s too bad, because several hundred million dollars have already gone out the window since Governor Edwards’ signed the order authorizing the program in January, 2016, without any meaningful provisions to check applicants’ eligibility. Had the program been implemented intelligently, we wouldn’t have needed that huge tax increase!

THE MEDICAID EXPANSION WILL SAVE THE STATE MONEY IN THE LONG RUN? Why sure, says John Bel Edwards, because folks won’t have to go to the ER room for treatment, right? But wait- according to the latest estimates, several hundred thousand people in Louisiana have dropped their existing medical insurance to enroll in the Medicaid Expansion program, and the folks with an Obamacare Exchange-based plan are leaving in droves – fewer than a hundred thousand people remain on Obamacare Exchanges in Louisiana. Before John Bel Edwards arrived on the scene, folks with medical insurance paid their way, and those with Obamacare based coverage at least paid something into the system, unlike his poorly-thought-out version of Medicaid Expansion. Guess who’s going to be called upon to make up the billion-dollar-a-year difference, starting soon?

LOUISIANA’S ECONOMY IS DOING WELL UNDER JOHN BEL EDWARDS? Well, no, it isn’t doing well at all, actually. John Bel Edwards persists in telling us that our unemployment rate is lower than the national average, but he uses the wrong statistic, the seasonally unadjusted employment rate. No one else uses that figure when talking about a state’s unemployment number. In fact, we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, which is especially surprising since our population has shrunk every year since John Bel Edwards was inaugurated. Yes, personal income is up a bit, but our increase is one of the smallest in the country. Louisiana’s gross domestic product increased by 1.1% in 2018, but that’s less than half the national average. Texas’ GDP grew almost three times faster! And we rank somewhere between 47th and dead last on every nationwide survey that’s come across my desk since 2016! So much for our stellar economy…

So here we are, four years into a failed administration starring the nation’s worst-performing state government, on a clear path to insolvency or ever-increasing taxes (pick one), with a diminishing population mired in ever-expanding government dependency, facing imminent credit downgrades and the loss of yet another congressional district.

Yet we are daily bombarded with claims by John Bel Edwards and the major media that his administration has been an outstanding success. Fact is, this Governor has had an ongoing problem with the truth since he began his campaign over five years ago, and his problem is becoming worse as the failures of his administration become daily more evident.

John Bel Edwards really must think the people of Louisiana are too stupid to see through his fakery, half-truths, and subterfuge. On October 12th, vote with your brain and your wallet, and forget the nonsense in the press-

JOHN BEL EDWARDS, YOU’RE ABOUT TO BE FIRED!

LOUIS GURVICH, Chairman
Republican Party of Louisiana

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