It’s Time To Call It Belfare From Now On

Wednesday afternoon we had a conversation with a longtime Republican pollster and political consultant who works all over the country on races, and he offered an interesting insight. He said he’s never seen a better environment for conservatives willing to unload bold, passionate messaging, and there are four issues out there that are moving voters as well as anything he can remember seeing in his career.

Three of those four are the border and immigration, the transgender issue and critical race theory. But the fourth, he said, is the Biden administration’s interminable unemployment bonus checks which are essentially paying people not to work. One study had it that you essentially would need to make $42,000 a year before you aren’t at least as well off sitting around the house catching government welfare checks as you are going to work.

As such, across the country there are state legislatures and governors who are starting to take action to rein in all this largesse, particularly considering the effect it’s having on inflation and the availability of goods and services. Some 18 states have announced that those benefits are going to be ending in June or July.

If you think about it, the shocking 4.2 percent jump in the consumer price index in April isn’t all that shocking at all. If you pay people not to work, they won’t work. When they don’t work, the work doesn’t get done. When the work doesn’t get done there are less goods and services available. But if the people are getting paid not to work they still have money to buy goods and services. So demand stays up but supply goes down; ergo, higher prices.

People who understand economics can see this absolutely stupid result of poor public policy coming a thousand miles away. But that doesn’t include anyone who puts a “D” next to his or her name, and particularly not if that person is an elected Democrat official. You have to by nature be an economic illiterate to be a Democrat today. Perhaps economics is racist, or something.

And this most certainly includes John Bel Edwards, who proved it Wednesday.

Edwards was approached by a coalition of business groups with a letter Tuesday. It read…

On behalf of the broad business coalition below, we are reaching out to express concerns from employers of all sizes and from all industries about the lack of available workers in the state. As everyone looks to move past the COVID pandemic, many of us in the business community felt it was important to share what we believe would be a positive move to help the state.

Some employers have temporary remote employees slowly phasing-in the return of their workforce to the physical office. Other businesses were forced to operate at reduce capacity are now able to return to full capacity but for the lack of available workers. The state’s unemployment rate remains higher than it was pre-pandemic and initial jobless claims increased in the past week.

Our coalition would respectfully ask that the state end the additional UI federal benefits.

We believe this additional benefit was an important short-term solution to help individuals who were adversely impacted at the start of the pandemic. However, 13 months later, many employers are finding it near impossible to fully staff their business which impacts the supply chain and timely delivery of goods and services. Additionally, we would advocate to redirect available federal dollars toward incentivizing return-to-work and/or retraining initiatives for Louisianans who may have lost their jobs during the pandemic but have struggled to re-enter the workforce.

We appreciate your consideration of these suggestions and the concerns of the Louisiana business community and would welcome any opportunity to visit further with you on this important issue.

Among those groups are Associated Builders and Contractors, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Louisiana Business Group on Health, Louisiana Homebuilders Association, Louisiana Manufactured Housing Association, Louisiana Oil Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Louisiana Restaurant Association, Louisiana Retailers Association, Louisiana Motor Transport Association, and the Louisiana chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

That’s a pretty heavy-hitting bunch of trade associations, and they represent a massive swath of the state’s economy.

But did they have any effect on Edwards? Hell, no.

Initially, he said he’d think about it

“I don’t want to rush into this,” Edwards said. “We want to get an economist to take a look at this to see whether there’s a net benefit or a net cost to continuing to receive these benefits.”

Then Edwards’ executive staff economist Manfred Dix was testifying in front of the Revenue Estimating Committee on Tuesday, and he dodged the question as well…

Senate President Page Cortez asked during Tuesday’s Revenue Estimating Conference meeting whether a recent plateau seen in the state’s slow jobs recovery might be from the enhanced benefits. Manfred Dix, the top economist in state government’s executive branch, was reluctant to weigh in on the “hot-potato discussion.”

Greg Albrecht, the Louisiana Legislature’s chief economist, said the state has added back only about 45% of the 250,000-plus jobs that had been lost at the low point of the pandemic-driven downturn. However, most of the jobs recovery happened when the federal enhancement was $600, double what it is now.

“The economic literature really doesn’t support the idea that that’s a big cause of unemployment,” Albrecht said, adding that it could be a minor factor in the decline in workforce participation. “It can’t be a positive.”

Translation: Dix wasn’t about to put his boss in a bad position, and Albrecht didn’t want to get put in the middle of a fight between the Legislature, whose leaders are a whole lot chummier with Edwards than anybody would ever expect Republicans to be, and the governor.

But yeah, everybody knows – including these guys – that the colossal shortage of waiters, store clerks, low-skilled workers, hotel staff and fast-food workers out there which is crippling business operations large and small is having an effect on workforce participation. Whether it’s enough of an effect to make it more politically difficult to pull out of those benefits before September, when inflation will probably start looking like South America, or not is a question.

But this isn’t complicated, and what’s worse is that it’s a competitiveness issue. Among those 18 states who’ll be turning on the lights and yelling “Wake up!” to the folks who would rather sleep in on a government check than go to work are Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

And, as of Monday, Texas. Florida is coming up right behind as well.

But when all of Louisiana’s neighbors are putting their people back to work and Louisiana isn’t, that means once again that Louisiana’s economic production will lag behind that of our neighbors. And that lack of competitiveness is corrosive. It feeds on itself. It becomes a tradition.

Strike that. It’s already becoming a tradition, particularly under John Bel Edwards’ tutelage. And when he rejected the business groups’ letter on Wednesday he took full ownership of those unemployment/welfare checks and the consequences thereof.

They’re Belfare checks now.

Edwards spokeswoman Christina Stephens said the governor intends to keep the federal aid flowing even as many of Louisiana’s neighboring states have opted out of the benefit. But he reenacted requirements in August that people receiving jobless aid prove they are looking for work.

The extra $300 per week in federal assistance, available until September, comes on top of state unemployment benefits that max out at $247 a week in Louisiana.

While the business groups believe the extra federal jobless benefit is discouraging some people from taking jobs, government surveys also show people are reluctant to look for work because they fear contracting COVID-19. In addition, other groups say many women have dropped out of the workforce to care for children and some people are searching for higher paying jobs with benefits.

The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute argued in a recent commentary that policymakers shouldn’t rein in the unemployment benefits.

“Cutting pandemic (unemployment) benefits now, as some states have done or are considering, will not just hurt workers who are depending on federal benefits while they cannot find work or are unable to work, it will also drag on the economy, as those benefits are supporting spending,” the organization said in the post.

We’d be willing to say that nobody from the pinko Economic Policy Institute, whose board is a Star Wars cantina scene of union bosses and Democrat operatives, ever gave a damn about business people trying to keep the doors open so they could even pay any employees. If Edwards is listening to these guys, which he is, over the actual business owners who are telling him they can’t get fully staffed because their employees would rather be day-drinking and Netflix-and-chilling than working a job, then that should tell you everything you need to know about why this state’s economy is in the sewer and why what we thought was a flood of outmigration pre-COVID now seems like a trickle compared to what’s currently happening.

Louisiana had 3,093,405 registered voters on April 1 of this year, according to the Secretary of State’s office. On May 1 the state had 3,091,507. That’s a net loss of 1,898 voters in one month, and for the year it’s a net loss of 13,035 registered voters – on Jan. 1 there were 3,104,542 registered voters in the state.

Where do you think those people went?

Nobody actively goes out and cancels their voter registration. There’s no purpose in doing that. And you don’t even come off the books when you die – the dead get scrubbed off the rolls periodically, but no such purge has taken place, as we understand it, because there was a recent federal election. So to lose that many people out of your electorate the likeliest explanation is that they’re moving away and registering to vote elsewhere.

It’s possible some of these people who aren’t working jobs in Louisiana for companies who are scrambling to find employees have picked up and left. But if the current trend maintains or increases, what’s more likely is there won’t be companies left to scramble because they’ll be picking up and leaving, too.

Edwards clearly couldn’t give a damn about that. He’s too busy giving out those Belfare checks with Biden’s federal dollars. He helps businesses who hire his connected contract-lobbyist pals; everybody else can pound sand.

This is how you destroy an economy. Hopefully Louisiana’s voters take note and learn the lesson never to elect a socialist like this again.

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