In his 2022 State of the State speech, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards reminded listeners of how after six years in office he has learned nothing about good governance, or even how to pursue public policy that benefits Louisiana instead of spreading the stench of politicized hypocrisy.
In this explanation of his agenda at the start of the Legislature’s regular session, about his only reasonable proposal came in his thoughts about utilizing the non-recurring portion of state funds derived from the debt-driven, inflation-inducing firehose of money coming from a Washington controlled by his party. This he asked to earmark for some major infrastructure items, looming debt to the federal government for coastal restoration, and to replenish the unemployment insurance trust fund to avoid large interest payments.
As for recurring monies, he lapsed into his familiar grasshopper foolishness. He fronted a number of items expanding government, ignoring that the false economy boosting revenues will diminish in short order, that a recent tax reshuffle will reduce general fund dollars available in the future, and that the temporary sales tax hike he instigated will roll off the books not long after he leaves office. Hence, the state can afford little if any in the way of new commitments.
He also recycled a few tiresome items the Legislature wisely rejects every time he begs. He may have thought himself clever in declaring anyone in the chamber couldn’t “with a straight face” tell him the Louisiana/federal minimum wage of $7.25 was “fair or acceptable,” but that merely showed his economic ignorance. The vast preponderance of studies of the topic agree that a significant increase in the wage, earned almost exclusively by workers very young and/or from multiple-income households, has serious negative effects – including price inflation that the nation endures under Democrats at the highest level in four decades, a topic Edwards left unaddressed.
But perhaps the most cretinous aspect came in the rank hypocrisy he displayed on multiple issues. Showing what happens when voters put into office a small-town lawyer with a limited grasp of the very field in which he does business, he falsely claimed that the state’s congressional districts reapportioned by the Legislature recently, not too dissimilar from the existing ones, which he vetoed (thereby ensuring the ones at hand will be used in fall elections) didn’t comport to the “law.”
In fact, the basis on which he made this claim – that since about a third of the state’s population is black then so must be the proportion of majority-minority congressional districts – runs directly counter to jurisprudence that declares reliance solely on demographics as Edwards does is unconstitutional. Moreover, contrary to Edwards’ assertion, courts have ruled states don’t have an obligation to draw M/M districts when they can be drawn only in a manner that protects a minority community’s opportunity to protect its political choices.
And, while Edwards complained that in all the reapportionment plans adopted didn’t add enough such districts, he approved all those other maps explicitly or implicitly. He did so because otherwise he would have suffered politically humiliating defeats with certain veto overrides, which much have seemed less palatable than making hypocritical charges in a speech. His response to all of this supposed unfairness – proposing that future reapportionment occur by an unaccountable commission free to impose its own biases uncontrolled by the people – added another whiff of hypocrisy.
However, this odor became insufferable when he alluded to several pieces of proposed legislation – unnamed but no doubt referring to bills to prevent instruction that denigrates individuals solely on the basis of characteristics such as race and sex, to prohibit discrimination against females participating in scholastic and collegiate sports, and to stop mutilation of children to satisfy a political agenda – as bills that “serve to divide us” when it is his opposition to items that preserve basic human decency like these that creates the division. And this he declared after he said he favored bills to help women, of all things.
Louisiana deserves a leader, not a panderer to almost every bad idea coming from the political left. Citizens must be counting the days when this governor proffering a dead-on-arrival agenda and serving as obstructor-in-chief to many positive and forward-thinking ideas takes his very belated leave from power.