Democratic Louisiana flag
Volume 2, Number 1
By Democrats For Democrats
January 6, 2011
Losing Russell and Fighting On

Russell Henderson died on Monday in New Orleans. We all carry a little heavier load today because of that. Here's his obituary.

Russell was an advocate for the rest of us. His work alone was reason enough to consider the word "lobbyist" as something other than a slur.

His heart and his head were on the side of the angels — those who voices otherwise would never have been heard in the halls of power.

He was a force for good who was not above using moral suasion or beneath striking a bargain.

He was a living, breathing Democrat who never turned his back on the roots of this party and tried his damnedest not to let others do so either.

His passing leaves a gaping hole across a number of fronts. If enough of us commit to raising the level of our engagement a lot, we might might come close to matching his passion. But, he took with him more political insight and skill than all of us have among us.

We will have to figure out how to fight on.

I believe that the fight for Louisiana (and, therefore, Louisiana Democrats) is about healthcare. We own this issue, whether we want to or not, because Republicans are intent on making us do so (ask Charlie Melancon).

This is a good thing. We should embrace health care reform and champion it for what it is — the last best hope to save the employment based health care system in this country. That system is in bigger trouble in Louisiana than in most places because fewer companies offer health coverage here and — because wages are low and costs are high — fewer still can afford it.

As the main article on the right explains, health care reform (the Affordable Care Act) is extremely good news for Louisiana. It will expand coverage to at least 750,000 currenlty uninsured Louisiana citizens, slow the rate of growth in premiums for those with insurance, improve the quality and lower the cost of Medicare for seniors, and stabilize the fiscal situation for the provider community (particularly community hospitals) by attaching a third-party payer for care given to people who currently do not have the means to pay.

From a political perspective, the great thing about the Affordable Care Act is that is gives Louisiana Democrats an issue that can help us reconnect with middle class families. I've had Tea Party members tell me that their are big parts of this law that they like (most of their opposition is based on misinformation).

Because Republicans insist on making us own this issue, we have to either embrace it or flee. Charlie Melancon's results last year indicate that we cannot run away from the issue.

The best part about the Affordable Care Act, again from a political perspective, is that it provides Louisiana Democrats a framework from which we can comprehend and attack the Jindal administration's disastrous health care policies.

There was good news this week when a group representing Louisiana's community hospitals convinced the Governor and his DHH secretary that cutting neonatal intensive care and other life-preserving services was not defensible. So, critically ill infants have been spared the budget axe; unfortunately, that leaves the disabled, the mentally ill, the infirm, expectant mothers and children, along with higher education and K-12 still on the cutting block. Surely, we can muster a winning coalition from among those with buyers' remorse for having voted for Jindal in 2007 along with those who never fell for him?

All three stories in the newsletter can be read on the Louisiana D2D blog. Click the links at the bottom of each article to go there.

Thanks for reading!

Mike Stagg, Editor

If Jindal has the job he wants, why is he still fighting health care reform?

Governor Bobby Jindal insists that he is not running for president, that he has the only job he wants — that of being governor of Louisiana.

There is a simple way that the governor could prove that: he could order Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to withdraw Louisiana from the suit challenging the new health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

Why? Because the Affordable Care Act is good for what ails Louisiana.

Admitting that might not help Jindal’s standing among national Republicans, but there is no better way to prove his commitment to serving Louisiana than dropping a politicized legal challenge to a law that helps Louisiana families and businesses, the health care provider community, and the State of Louisiana. In fact, under Jindal, state government has moved to take advantage of provisions of the new law.

To understand why this law is good for Louisiana, it is necessary to understand the state of health in Louisiana today. Doing so reveals that the Affordable Care Act goes a long way towards addressing what ails health care in this state (and, also, this country).

The Affordable Care Act addresses key things that ail Louisiana and Louisiana’s health care delivery system. It will not only improve access to care in Louisiana, it will stabilize the finances of the provider community and ensure that the state’s health care dollars (spent primarily through Medicaid) get more bang for the buck.

For Democrats, recognizing the state of health care in Louisiana and understanding how the Act responds to what ails it reveals the blatantly partisan nature of the attacks on the law by Jindal and others. The sound public policy at the heart of the act reveals the efforts to deny Louisiana citizens, businesses and the provider community the benefits of this Act to be strictly partisan and diametrically opposite of the best interests of the state and its people.

Understanding Louisiana’s health care challenges and how the Act responds to those reveals the opponents of the Act for what they are — partisans who place politics above any consideration for the well being of the people of this state.

(Click here for the rest of the story)

Doing the Math

Louisiana is going to lose a House seat, based on Census results. We will go from seven to six congressional districts, beginning with the 2012 federal elections.

The 2009 American Community Survey (released in December 2010) revealed that African Americans comprise almost exactly one-third of the state's population.

Louisiana is a Voting Rights state, meaning that special attention is paid to the protection of minority voting rights in our state due to our history.

So, while much talk in recent weeks has centered on ideas like creating a coastal district stretching from Texas to Mississippi, more serious consideration is going to have to be give to creating a congressional reapportionment map that responds to the fundamental demographics of our state.

One-third of six is two. Can two majority African American districts be created? Or, can one African American majority district result in five other districts with significant African American voter bases in them?

This could significantly shift the ideological makeup of our congressional delegation for the better.

White Democrats will have to learn to vote for African Americans. If we can, we can transform politics in our state. If not, we will keep on losing.

Deep Water Drilling Approved; Oil Industry Whining Continues

That whining Bobby Jindal complained about at the end of last year was apparently coming from his buddies in the oil and gas industry — not the heads of the state's colleges and universities.

The proof could be found this week when, after the Obama administration allowed 13 deep water drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico to resume, the industry cacophony of whining ratcheted up to a higher pitch.

Too little, too late. Not enough. Too slow. Too hot! Too cold! Bwaaahhh!! The industry and its apologists, accustomed to writing the rules they then chose to ignore, are perplexed by the notion of regulation and inspection by people who (at least for now) can't be bought.

Get used to it. The well has been plugged, new rules are in place, but the whining will not stop.

The legitimacy of the whining is best assessed in the context of the earlier rage against the moratorium and the dire predictions the oil and gas lobby, elected officials, academics and other said the temporary moratorium would have on Louisiana's economy.

Lies and Propaganda

The only way to describe the claims made about the moratorium and the way it was used to attack the Obama administration in Louisiana is to call them what they were: lies and propaganda.

The liar in chief was Governor Bobby Jindal who immediately recognized that the moratorium posed a financial threat to his legions of backers in the offshore oil services industry anchored primarily in coastal southeast Louisiana.

After GOP heavy hitter, former co-owner of the New Orleans Hornets, and Jindal backer Gary Chouest's companies threatened immediate layoffs after the moratorium was declared, Jindal spoke at the first anti-moratorium rally held in an Edison Chouest facility at Port Fourchon on June 11. Jindal spoke at the second anti-moratorium rally on June 24th which was held at the Gulf Island Fabricators facility in the port in Houma where that company is working on a Chouest project that is at least partially funded by the State of Louisiana.

That rally was held four days after the Jindal-ordered amicus brief filing in the suit against the moratorium in which the governor's attorneys, headed by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, lied to the federal judge hearing the case. In the brief, Caldwell and the other attorneys said that the moratorium had cost thousands of Louisiana workers their jobs and cited the Louisiana Workforce Commission as the source of that information.

(Click here to continue reading this article)

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