What is it men cannot be made to believe! - Thomas Jefferson, 1786
It was only 5 short years ago when the following words were spoken:
That is how we will run our New Louisiana government. Twenty-first century schools and colleges. Curricula linked to our new economy. Quality teachers. Accountability for results… A modern health care system that provides for all.
Bobby Jindal promised a modern health care system that provides for all. As of today, Bobby Jindal made sure that the promise he asked us to believe in would never come true:
The LSU governing board has backed a plan to deepen cuts to the university-run public hospitals that care for the poor and uninsured to $152 million.
The reductions will fall across seven south Louisiana hospitals, eliminating dozens of inpatient beds, some clinic services and nearly 1,500 jobs, most of which will require layoffs.
Opelka emphasized that the system was looking for private health care providers to “partner” with to provide care to the largely uninsured population that the LSU hospitals treat. These partnerships will help fill the care gaps, he said.
But Opelka mostly did not specify what those partnerships will look like, although he noted that Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center will treat patients.
For those taking stock at home, that’s a 25% cut. According to the AP, the cuts will fall in this manner:
Job cuts at
#LSU hospitals include 423 positions in New Orleans, 341 in Baton Rouge, 173 in Lafayette, 146 in Bogalusa, 95 in Independence.
It was just the other day that we saw that “Reductions for the LSU-operated charity hospital system are particularly unpopular. 89% said they were concerned by the cuts.”
In other words, if you didn’t like what’s already happened, get ready to Believe in Louisiana even harder! After Bobby cuts health care and education beyond the bone, so much so that the physical infrastructure will disappear, the only thing we’ll have left is our belief.
The facts don’t matter. Despite the smoke screens, the truth is, we won’t cover everyone. Health care, already in crisis for our very poor state, will evaporate. You’re on your own. But we know this. “It’s arithmetic.”
In this post-truth right-wing hysteria, it’s always about “modern delivery systems,” or “reforming antiquated systems,” also know as privatization. Giveaways to your big business friends, campaign contributors. And Louisianians are left out to dry. Again.
After Bobby Jindal is done dismantling our state, belief is all we’ll have left.
Sound good to you?
We thought not. Last week, however, we personally tasted our first Vitter-tinged teabagging as citizens under the rule of what could very possibly be the State’s next Governor. The Vitter-Kennedy tea-tard alliance gummed up the State House so badly that Gov. Jindal’s kabuki thuggery couldn’t put humpty back together again.
Jindal, in the end, is simply a privatizer, not a small-government advocate. He doesn’t want to make “government” smaller, he just wants the money to go to private corporations owned by his friends. If you actually shrink government, those guys might get less money! Aghast. That’s what the one-time money fight is all about. Jindal wants to keep the revenue veins open for his corporate vulture buddies. Vitter just wants to kill the patient dead. Oh yeah, and the patient is regular Louisianians struggling with one of the nation’s poorest, least healthy, and worst-educated states. But we digress.
Back to our story: So, Vitter had been warning Jindal over the use of “one-time” (sweeping revenues from other purposes to pay for Government operations) money in the State budget for weeks. Even as Vitter endorsed Jindal last year, Vitter made it clear that he was coming for Jindal. It was one of those tongue-in-cheek endorsements, sort of like this:
Here, Godfather of right-wing tea-bagging David Vitter kisses his brother-in-arms, signaling his brother’s death.
Vitter’s allies in the legislature aren’t quite willing to cop to the game, lest they lose what independent balls they have left. Yet, it is undeniably the work of a dark-master of strategy:
Denials aside, Vitter has been peppering House members with emails and phone calls asking them to oppose Jindal on this issue.
For instance, last week Vitter emailed some representatives: “I think it’s crucial that we take the tough, but important, fiscal stand to end the use of ‘one-time’ money to balance the state budget … Please stand tall — and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded colleagues and the great majority of Louisianians.”
Vitter, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004 after serving in the Louisiana House for 12 years, also emailed constituents suggesting they contact their legislators and voice their “rejection of the tired and wasteful ways of the good ’ol boys who used to run things in Louisiana.”Of course, legislators receive all manner of communications from constituents exhorting the representatives to stand this way or that on various issues. But few correspondences have much impact among the House majority, if the way they’re urging differ from what Jindal’s aides say.
Jindal’s own political apparatus apparently spends its quality time with reporters attacking David Vitter, off the record of course:
About 30 minutes after the request Thursday to interview Vitter, his press secretary released a prepared statement that acknowledged the U.S. senator was “reaching out to legislators” and quoted the senator congratulating House conservatives “for standing tall” when they refused to accept “one time” money in the budget.
Timmy Teepell, Jindal’s political adviser, said, “Sen. Vitter and the U.S. Senate have not passed a budget in almost three years. Until they do, he should probably spend his time focused on that.”
Both Ivy League-educated officials repeatedly profess love and admiration for the other. But both Jindal and Vitter practice scorched-earth politics, and their aides in casual conversation are quick to belittle the other big elephant in the house — all off the record, of course.
The strongest will survive, so let’s see them rumble! Of course, Timmy Teepell is home-schooled, so he doesn’t know anything about natural selection. But he does know the Governor’s politics fairly well. And we would venture to guess that’s not the toughest thing he says about the Sinator behind closed doors.
Vitter’s not-so-silent partner in all of this is Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy. As many would acknowledge, Kennedy is held in high esteem around Baton Rouge by the business crowd at the Camelot club, and his dark alliance with Vitter only works in Kennedy’s favor overall.
How charming? It looks as though Governor Jindal’s economic miracle in Louisiana isn’t such a miracle after all. Not that he’d admit it:
The Revenue Estimating Conference — which decides how much money the state can spend — revised the state’s financial forecast Tuesday night after listening to economists’ projections.The state operating budget that funds schools and other public services is based on those projections. When they fall short, extra money has to be found or spending has to be cut.“The problem isn’t just too high of a forecast. The problem is the economy,” said Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the Legislative Fiscal Office.
Albrecht said the underlying economy is weaker than it is being reported to be. It’s an assessment to which Gov. Bobby Jindal disagrees.
Mind you, this is after the REC reported that revenues were a full $304m less than anticipated, putting more strain on an already beleaguered State operating budget. But after the facts were presented, Jindal refused to address his role in causing the disaster:
Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, the governor’s top budget aide, said state agencies already are aware of the financial problems.“Obviously, we’re going to have to make reductions,” Rainwater said.
The governor tried to strike a positive note during a news conference after the meeting concluded. Jindal said Louisiana’s economy is performing comparatively well. “Obviously, we’re going to work with the Legislature to make sure we have a balanced budget,” the governor said.
Jindal’s positive spin on the state’s economy conflicted with the conversation at the Revenue Estimating Conference meeting.
Well, “OBVIOUSLY” you are required to balance the budget, but isn’t it also obvious that most of this issue is the result of Jindal’s addiction to one-time money and privatization schemes in his budgeting strategy?
But Jindal wouldn’t have to stray too far from the GOP alternative reality to get advice. None other than the Sinator “Diapers” David Vitter needled Jindal on this front earlier this month:
In an email to supporters, Vitter said the state’s continued use of one-time dollars for ongoing expenses only serves to “kick the can down the road from making the tough, but necessary, budget decisions for our state” because the state isn’t certain to continue to have the money.
“That practice is too akin to Washington’s way of business, and Louisianians rightly acknowledge Washington doesn’t know the first thing about fiscal stewardship,” Vitter wrote.The senator urged “conservative reformers” to restrict the use of such budget maneuvers that shuffle one-time dollars to continuing expenses.”It will certainly make budget decisions tougher, but I believe it will also make our fiscal house healthier in the long run,” Vitter said