Today the US economy recorded the highest number of recovered jobs ever. Back home in John Bel Edwards’ Louisiana the job news was nowhere near so bright, as unemployment climbed again in June, now to 306,000 Louisianans. It is true that many of the unemployed may try to return to work when the $600 per week Federal grant program expires in July. But there is no reason to expect, as we seem to be experiencing in Trump’s America, a “V” shaped jobs recovery in Edwards’ Louisiana. So, there is no expectation of job opportunities when those folks come looking for work.
Interestingly one under-reported aspect of the recent Legislative Sessions was a rift that seems to be growing between the Governor and his main base of support, the Black Caucus. Out of pure speculation by me, issues such as state-mandated nursing homes for Medicaid patients and high insurance costs driven by his trial lawyer pals may be negatively resonating with black constituents, who then are putting pressure on legislators to abandon the governor.
Also, because the Caucus controls so much of the Democratic vote in Louisiana they clearly are demanding far more say in selecting African-Americans for state boards and commissions. Witness the recent power play by Senator Peterson that resulted in two prominent white Democrats who were Edwards’ nominees being booted from the Convention Center Board, to be replaced by two black commissioners not doubt promoted by her.
Whatever the Democratic politics, the governor’s woes may be about to grow exponentially worse. When those 306,000 or more unemployed, a great many African-American, lose that $600 a week they will be screaming for jobs that won’t be there.
For the last many months, the governor has spent his entire time talking of nothing else than the COVID epidemic, ignoring the looming unemployment crisis completely. People will not be able stay in their homes, they will have to survive on meager unemployment compensation, and they will have no hope. As I have said before, by ignoring the reality of the economy, the governor has proven that he can walk but not chew gum at the same time.
By failing to listen to business people as they implored him to help to create a better economic climate in Louisiana, he has abandoned tens of thousands of now-jobless citizens to much worse life prospects. Instead he chose to follow the path that so many had followed before him; keep the people happy with big social programs paid for by someone else and do not upset the Baton Rouge “swamp.”
His demonstrated pre-COVID strategy of raising taxes to record heights to support massive government programs will soon come home to him. Resulting from the recession, state government now will be desperate for funds to pay for his spending folly and no one will support him on any more tax increases. And because Republicans blocked him in on capital spending, he lacks the resources to buy legislative votes with district projects.
I suppose he hopes that the Federal government will bring forth massive funds to save him, but so far that seems not to be a sure thing. Catastrophically looming too is the potential that the Supreme Court will rule that Obama Care is unconstitutional. If that occurs there is no bottom for our economy.
I would not want to be in the shoes of a governor that finds his legacy defined by high unemployment, economic misery, and nowhere to turn. Politically, as so many unemployed are black and as he will be impotent to respond to their needs, he will likely lose the remainder of his African-American base. The other element of his base, the unions, will also desert him when they realize that they are facing bleak job prospects and he has no answer. The ensuing power vacuum will be filled as the Black Caucus assumes full authority over the Democratic Party power structure. It will be a very long three years for a lame duck governor who has lost his own base, just look back at the last few years of the Jindal Administration.
It is ironic, but if as seems likely this scenario pans out, Edwards’ legacy would have been better off if he had lost his re-election and gone down in history as the last Huey Long adherent who through no fault of his own was overcome by a rising Republican Party. Instead he may go down as the governor who won a second term but then oversaw the demise of his own Party and the abandonment of himself by his once loyal base.