APPEL: Great Job With That Rental-Assistance Program, John Bel!

Over the weekend the Governor announced that his much-ballyhooed rental assistance program had been shut down because too many people had applied.

What a surprise – NOT!

This was one of most poorly thought-out programs yet to flow from his liberal administration. Not that the people do not need the help, poorly thought-out because it appears to have been more of a shiny object to detract our attention from his lack of a viable economic recovery plan. And, whether consciously or not, by doing so he has delayed help for people who so desperately need it.

I have written often that the governor has been good about addressing the COVID epidemic, but awful about addressing its evil twin, the economic collapse brought on by the epidemic and the oil bust. I suppose my belief is that as a liberal trial lawyer, steeped in the traditions of populist politicians he was ill-equipped to have dealt with Louisiana’s economic malaise when we were last in the nation even before COVID. And now with the trigger of COVID, he probably will be a literal catastrophe as Federal assistance dries up and our people are left jobless. It has become abundantly clear that we are a rudderless ship of state tossed about in the economic maelstrom of a failed economy.

Perhaps nothing demonstrates his lack of economic acumen more than the debacle that resulted in this weekend’s announcement. Liberal Democrats like the governor base their philosophy on outcomes, with little regard to how they are achieved or their sustainability. They believe that funding to achieve outcomes flows from wealth transfers passing through government (taxes) or from infusions of cash from the Federal government (also taxes).

With resources unencumbered by the necessity of economic success a governor can spend his way to whatever outcomes he desires and ignore the damage to the structure of the economy that such spending causes. So far during his tenure as governor a willing legislature, some luck from a BP windfall, plus massive Federal spending has let him get away with it. But that seems ordained to change.

So, when he announced his rental assistance program, he did so without a concern that he only had resources for 40,000 people and that with those limited sums it would-be short-term help anyway. What a great publicity event, after all outcomes are measurable to the media, but it was never conjoined to reality. The fatal flaws were destined to doom it, but I confess that it happened much faster than even I expected. The flaws were so obvious; Louisiana has hundreds of thousands of people in need of assistance not 40,000, the money that he planned to use was limited with no apparent source for more, and the only real solution has always been an economy that generates enough good paying jobs so that people don’t need government handouts to stay in their homes.

Republicans believe in opportunities. We believe that while in instances such as now, short-term assistance is important, it must be properly designed and funded and coupled with long term restructuring to attract wealth creating job opportunities. In other words, our people desperately need help but in doing so we intuitively recognize that only opportunities created by a viable economy will offer hope to break the cycle of poverty and the addiction to government dependency.

None of the opportunities philosophy of government fits a liberal’s outcomes playbook, so the inevitability of the laws of economics undid the governor in near record time. Yes, we need short term help, but we must also take off our blinders and recognize that that shiny objects like a failed limited rental relief program do nothing for the long-term happiness of our people.



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