BURLAND: Louisiana Should Dump JBE If We Want To Join The Trump Economy

The strong and growing Trump economy has brought benefits to every corner of the country, but Louisiana would be doing better if our state government would stop undermining the pro-growth policies that are uplifting neighboring states.

President Trump recently held a Keep America Great rally in Lake Charles to underscore the vital importance of the 2019 gubernatorial election, which will now head to a runoff after Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards failed to secure a majority in the open primary on Saturday. That means we need to rally around Republican challenger Eddie Rispone on November 16, otherwise we could wind up facing another four years of job-killing policies that will cause us to fall behind the rest of the country.

“I need you to send the radical Democrat establishment a loud and clear message,” President Trump told thousands of cheering supporters who packed the James E. Sudduth Coliseum. “You are going to fire your Democratic governor. He’s done a lousy job.”

Donald Trump is right: Gov. Edwards has been an absolute disaster for Louisiana’s economy, crippling our growth potential with tax hikes and going out of his way to stifle job creation. The President’s record of economic success, on the other hand, is well-documented. Nationally, unemployment is at the lowest level in half a century, wages are rising at the fastest rate in over a decade, and more than 6 million new jobs have been created in less than three years.

A rising tide lifts all boats, and the pro-growth economic policies the Trump administration has implemented at the federal level have certainly buoyed Louisiana’s prospects. Yet, the job-killing agenda enacted by Gov. Edwards continues to act as a drag on our economy, holding us back from reaching even greater heights of prosperity.

Conveniently, Edwards took office almost exactly one year before Donald Trump’s inauguration, so it’s fairly easy to contrast the effects of their radically different approaches to governing.

Louisiana lost more than 26,000 jobs during the first 12 months that Edwards was in office, a deficit so large that it still hasn’t quite been erased despite an encouraging pattern of steady job creation since Trump took office. Similarly, our state GDP barely budged in 2016, increasing by just a fraction of a percentage point, but growth has accelerated dramatically since then, with the economy expanding by 1.3 percent in the Fourth Quarter of 2018 alone.

The abrupt turnaround of Louisiana’s economic prospects is no mystery from a policy perspective. The pro-growth policies President Trump has implemented since taking office are diametrically opposed to the tax-and-regulate philosophy that Gov. Edwards brings to the table. Louisiana suffered when Edwards had an ideological soulmate in the White House pushing the same sort of destructive policies Edwards has inflicted on us — but as soon as Donald Trump started eliminating regulations, cutting taxes, and renegotiating unfair trade deals, our state’s fortunes improved dramatically. If we had elected a governor in 2016 who shared Trump’s economic philosophy, we could have avoided a whole year of hardship.

The President, for instance, has brought about an energy renaissance in the United States, enabling us to become the largest oil producer in the world and taking us to the brink of genuine energy independence by promoting domestic energy production, especially fracking. Although Louisiana is a natural beneficiary of the Trump administration’s energy policies, Governor Edwards has hindered the growth of our oil and gas industry by increasing taxes and pursuing questionable lawsuits against energy companies.

That may earn Edwards brownie points with coastal elites and far-left special interest groups, but it creates real hardship for the thousands of Louisiana residents employed by the oil and gas industry — not to mention all the Louisianans who could have gotten high-paying jobs in that industry if not for Edwards’s interventions.

Edwards has also held back our state’s economic progress by drastically increasing taxes. Under John Bel Edwards, Louisiana residents have shouldered regressive sales tax hikes that increase the cost of goods and services, blunting the beneficial impact of President Trump’s historic federal income tax cuts, which saved the average Louisiana taxpayer $1,000 in 2018. Edwards promised not to raise taxes when we elected him, but he broke his word, and we should hold him accountable for that at the ballot box.

Our neighbors have been able to slash tax rates thanks to the boom in job creation enabled by President Trump’s policies, yet Edwards proudly boasts of burdening Louisiana workers and families with higher taxes despite the fact that they were completely unnecessary — the state budget surplus is projected to reach $300 million this year, more than double the surplus we had in 2017. Edwards says that’s preferable to a $300 million deficit, but that straw man argument completely misses the point. The alternative to tax hikes wouldn’t have been a deficit; it would have been a slightly smaller surplus that didn’t require sapping the purchasing power of ordinary citizens.

This sort of inept economic stewardship has characterized the Edwards administration from the very beginning, and that’s precisely why we need to make sure we send Republican businessman Eddie Rispone to the governor’s mansion. We need to make sure that John Bel Edwards is a one-term governor.

Electing a governor who is committed to working with the Trump administration’s policies, rather than against them, will finally allow Louisiana to start reaping the full benefits of the strong and growing Trump economy. Eddie Rispone can be that governor, but he needs our votes on November 16.

James S. “Jimmy” Burland, J.D., Managing Partner, is licensed to practice law in the state of Louisiana and represents corporations, businesses and trade associations in the federal and Louisiana halls of government. He is a Louisiana state registered lobbyist who has authored numerous articles and made scores of presentations on such topics as governmental ethics, campaign finance laws and effective PAC management.

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