Despite Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ narrow reelection win, Louisiana government will shrink a bit and its economy will get a boost.
Thank the Republican Pres. Donald Trump Administration for both. Even though in a relative sense Louisiana had the worst state economy under Edwards, in an absolute sense the state’s economy actually improved in some ways – because of Trump policies, in spite of Edwards policies. Even the leakiest boat rose with the economic-prosperity-inducing Trump policies of lower taxes and reduced and revised regulations with an eye towards unleashing private sector activity; it isn’t hard to see how a victory by his Democrat competitor Hillary Clinton would have prevented all of this and, at best, continue the worst recovery since World War II, instead of the country experiencing the Trump economic boom.
And this saved Edwards. Because Trump policies could mask to some extent the anti-growth, pro-big-government agenda of Edwards and its deleterious economic consequences, this kept enough people from feeling dissatisfied enough to follow the example of other states in the past five years whose electorates booted out governors for better relative economic performances.
But it works both ways. Last week, the Trump Administration had the first of three rules finalized dealing with the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program eligibility. This first rule that goes into effect Apr. 1, 2020 along with the other two later in 2020 will affect, by one estimate, 26,000 or around three percent of all Louisianans receiving this aid – and largely will negate an Edwards policy designed to inflate SNAP rolls.
Upon entering office, Edwards reversed a decision by his predecessor instituting SNAP requirements that able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) work, train for work, or volunteer – despite that states which have similarly imposed such requirements enjoyed cost savings, reduced unemployment, and greater personal earnings among their peoples. Rather, he adopted a meaningless executive order that changed nothing.
The Trump change allows this policy to proceed only in parishes and cities with an unemployment rate of 6 percent or higher. Only one quarter of the state’s parishes – only one with more than 25,000 people – and no metropolitan areas met that standard in October. The remainder ABAWD fall back to the standard of receiving SNAP only three months out of every three years.
The Edwards no-excuses SNAP waiver policy was one of the most relaxed among the states and, under Edwards, Louisiana has the third-worst workers/jobs ratio in the country, just one of six states where there are still more workers available than jobs. The former creates a larger pool to have the Trump policy affect, while the latter attenuates that impact.
In other states that eliminated the no-excuses policy saw economic benefits, and Louisiana will as well. Of course, Edwards eventually illegitimately will take credit for the decrease in unemployment and rise in incomes from this change against his preferences, despite having done the exact opposite on SNAP. That will join a long list of Edwards policy preferences that ran against Trump’s but whose benefits he hypocritically claims, that helped him to reelection despite himself.