Welcome to Democratic Louisiana!
This is the first edition of Democratic Louisiana, a newsletter that will focus on Louisiana political and policy news from a Democratic perspective. This publication is not a affiliated with the Louisiana Democratic Party or any other party organization, although those of us writing here are Democrats. One purpose of this publication is to provide the analysis and policy perspectives that can help arm Democrats in their fight for policies that better serve our state and its people.
We take Tip O'Neill's statement to heart "All politics is local" and local here means Louisiana. Our focus will primarily be on state government, with forays into local government and politics as our writers find them or as you lead us to them.
We want your help identifying the stories and trends that need attention. If you see a story in your local paper or other news outlet that you believe is important to Louisiana, send it to us! Together we can build the relevance of this publication and create a more Democratic Louisiana!
One housekeeping note: "The Big Blue 1" is the top story of the week. The intro is here. To get to the rest of the story, click the link at the end of the story.
Democratic Louisiana is a project of Louisianad2d.us and friends across the state.
Mike Stagg, Editor
Louisiana Being Sacrificed at Altar of Bobby Jindal's National Ambitions
Louisiana has never had a governor like Bobby Jindal.
For probably the first time in our history we have a govenor in Jindal for whom the interests of the state hold (at best!) second place in his hierarchy of priorities as he tries to maneuver himself into a position on the national ticket of the Republican Party in either 2012 or beyond.
Jindal understands that in order to be a player on the national GOP scene, he must keep faith with the rigid ideological wing of his party for whom government is an anathema and tax increases under any circumstances are crime against their class.
As a result, Jindal did not have the nerve to stand up to legislators led by House Speaker Jim Tucker who engineered the repeal of the state income tax portion of the Stelly Tax deal during his first legislative session as Governor, which has left the state with a recurring income hole in excess of $300,000,000. This is the budget hole that keeps on giving, as Jindal has steadfastly refused to take any step that might be construed as supporting a tax increase even though the Tucker/Jindal Hole, combined with a tapering off of federal disaster recovery dollars, and a drop in tax revenues due to the current recession are combining to inflict draconian cuts in services in the two unprotected areas of the state budget healthcare and higher education.
These cuts are destroying thousands of some of the best paying jobs in Louisiana and inflicting serious harm to our short-term and long-term ability to care for and treat the sick, and educate our young people. In short, Bobby Jindal is tearing up Louisiana's future in an attempt to build his own.
Click here to read Part I: "It Started With Jindal's Stelly Flip"
Did Bobby Lean on Buddy to Sue on Healthcare?
National Democratic-leaning blogs have picked up on a story that originated in the Eunice News regarding possible pressure or a deal between Governor Bobby Jindal and Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, a Democrat.
Both Think Progress and Washington Monthly somehow picked up on an April 2 story in the Eunice News on how Caldwell came to be the only Democratic attorney general to join 13 Republican peers in filing a suit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
So far, no Louisiana other news organizations have picked up on the story.
According to an article written by Tom Aswel of Capitol News Service that The Eunice News carried on EuniceToday.com, Caldwell was reluctant to be the "token Democrat" in the Republican effort to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional.
In a subsequent address to employees of his office, the Attorney General said the decision was made more out of the necessity of saving jobs in his agency than any real hopeor desireof overturning the health care law. According to the story:
One employee said Caldwell, in a candid admission, claimed that a deal was made with Jindal. Under terms of that agreement, the governor would not make additional cuts in the attorney general’s budget if Caldwell joined in the litigation. Caldwell agreed to be the “token Democrat,” he said, so that he might save additional job cuts by an administration whose state goal is to reduce the number of state employees by as much as 5,000 per year over three years.
Think Progress, which is part of the Center for American Progress headed by former Clinton Administration chief of staff John Podesta, in a story on Monday afternoon, asked in its headline: "Did Jindal Bribe Louisiana's Attorney General to Force Him to Join Frivilous Health Care Lawsuit?" The post points out that Caldwell has come under strong criticism from the Legislative Black Caucus for joining the suit which, while considered frivilous by some, could cost Louisiana hundreds of millions of dollars if it succeeds.
The Washington Monthly, playing off criticisms of Senator Mary Landrieu's Medicaid funding deal for Louisiana that was included in the Affordable Care Act, headlined their Tuesday story, "A Different Kind of Louisiana Purchase."
Healthcare Reform Big Win for Louisiana and Democrats!
The Affordable Care Act has been signed into law by President Barack Obama, completing a year-long battle for his administration and a decades-long quest by Democrats to extend access to care to all Americans.
Senator Mary Landrieu played a key role in getting the legislation through the Senate, including securing $300 million from the federal government to help Louisiana Medicaid funding.
After a year of lies and distortions about what was in the bill, Louisiana residents will start seeing the benefits of the new law in a matter of months. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius began working with states last week to form high-risk pools that will offer affordable health insurance to adults who have been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Later this summer, children up to age 26 will be able to obtain health insurance coverage under their parents policy a big win for middle class families with health insurance.
Insurance companies are also being banned from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
Here's a link to a full list of benefits that come to you this year.
Other provisions of the law will kick-in over time, but benefits are coming this year, and Louisiana will be a huge winner as a result. That's the case because we have long had high percentage of adults without health insurance and we have high levels of chronic disease and high levels of early deaths from those diseases. The law will also bring new approaches to preventative care so that people can lead healthier lives.
The Democratic Policy Committee, a branch of the Senate Democratic Caucuse, has compiled a series of reports on what the Affordable Care Act will mean for each state. You can access those reports by clicking here.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has compiled a list of benefits of the Affordable Care Act will mean for each congressional district. You can download the impact on your district by clicking here.
Healthcare reform will be good for Democrats and for Louisiana! Get the facts and get ready to be proud of your President and your Congress!