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Naming Names, Senate Edition

(Reposted and updated to reflect the Senate’s shameful vote.)

Bobby Jindal’s school vouchers bill passed the Louisiana State Senate easily – see the roll call vote to know how your legislator voted.

This bill is the opposite of progress – yet 6 Senate “Democrats” voted in favor. We don’t know what motivated them, but we can guess.

Politics. Money. Re-election. Selfishness. Fear. General spinelessness. Any other guesses?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t their conscience. No one with a good conscience can vote for a bill that robs money from the public education system in Louisiana – that gives taxpayer-funded handouts to the rich and makes inflated promises of hope to the poor. This vote is inexcusable.

Without further adieu, let’s see the roll call of Democrats who gave Bobby Jindal a sweeping victory (and dealt a major blow to our public schools) on his landmark education reform legislation.


Troy Brown of Napoleonville

Elbert L. Guillory of Opelousas

David R. Heitmeier of New Orleans

Jean-Paul J. Morrell of New Orleans

Gary Smith of Norco

Greg Tarver of Shreveport

DuBos: Pro-Segregation Bill is Wrong for Louisiana

Clancy DuBos said it best on WWL today:

This reminds me of a time when state law also did not protect black people. State lawmakers back then tried the same thing that Senator Crowe is trying now — to use discriminatory state laws as an excuse for violating federal laws.It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Progressive Louisiana Republican?

I never thought I would write the words in the title consecutively. But one Republican legislator is showing that he’s not your cookie-cutter conservative nor is he a pawn of the Jindal machine (like almost all Republicans and many Democrats in Baton Rouge today).

Ladies and Gentlemen…meet Joe Harrison:

Joe, as we will appropriately call him, has been a leading voice of common sense and reason against Jindal’s attack on public education. As the article on called to our attention this morning, Joe has offered The Harrison Plan for education reform – a stark contrast to the Jindal plan and the the only tangible alternative offered thus far (that we know of). Ok, Democrats, pay attention.

Joe’s plan has 6 parts across 7 bills:

  1. Team teaching for K-4 – While it may be impractical to require that the same teachers follow a group of students for 5 years straight, his heart is in the right place as far as fostering a system in which teachers develop close relationships with kids. And I like the idea of partnering teachers with differentbackgrounds or areas of expertise. It is good to see a proposal that puts the focus back in the (public school) classroom.
  2. Mandated parental involvement – While this won’t always work, I think the idea is a good one. I’m not sure you can make a parent care if he or she doesn’t already, but it is important to find ways to get public school parents more actively involved. Overall, I doubt a bill like this would ever pass.
  3. Integrated school-based healthcare – The cycle of poverty is a big cause of poor performance in schools across Louisiana. Many children need a combination of health and social services, as the problems they face in these areas are directly related to how prepared they are to learn at school. So, it only makes sense that these services are offered on campus.
  4. Integrated school-based social services – See above. It also makes sense to package these services because of the potential cost efficiencies for the taxpayers.
  5. Requirement that school districts spend at least 80% of MFP on classroom instruction – As Joe says, “It’s as simple as ABC and 1,2,3.” Far too much is spent at the district level on administrative costs. This bill would force local school boards to put the money where it can best help students.
  6. Mandatory inclusion of the “founding principles” in high school history courses – This is a nonstarter. For starters, the term “founding principles” can mean different things to different people. I’m not sure what the thought was here, but I do agree that we need to beef up civics education.

Regardless of the details (or as some of our legislators would say, “irregardless”), the focus of the Harrison Plan is on improving public schools in practical ways. This is what education reform should be about — not about giving taxpayer dollars away to the private sector. Kudos to Joe for his courage and leadership! We need more folks like him in Baton Rouge.

Affordable Care Act Unlikely to Be Struck Down By High Court

With the stroke of a pen, Barack Obama expanded healthcare for millions, cut long term costs, and made insurers work harder for us.

As the Supreme Court enters the second day of oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act, tea baggers are praying and hoping that the Court takes a turn for political hackery. Unfortunately for those poor souls, it doesn’t look likely:

National Journal surveyed former Supreme Court clerks and lawyers who have argued cases before the high court about the health care law, and the consensus was that the Affordable Care is likely to prevail. One respondent said, “I don’t think this case will be nearly as close a case as conventional wisdom now has it. I think the Court will uphold the statute by a lopsided majority.

Constitutional Law expert Jack Balkin has even stronger words:

The challengers to the health care mandate have filed their Supreme Court brief – the definitive statement of the case against the mandate, drawing on the strongest arguments that have been made against it by advocates and federal judges, and authored by conservative superlawyer Paul Clement. It is astoundingly thin and weak. A standard admonishment to young lawyers is that they should address the very strongest arguments on the other side, instead of substituting weak caricatures of their opponents’ views. Yet the brief does this repeatedly.

…As I’ve noted in a different context, when a lawyer as good as Clement makes arguments this bad, it tells you a lot about how desperate his case is.

Read Balkin’s piece in its entirety. If the Court upholds the law, grab the popcorn because a conservative immolation of epic proportions is on the way.

Meanwhile, erstwhile Democrat turncoat AG Buddy Caldwell is in DC to “observe” the arguments at the Supreme Court:

This will literally help shut this country down,” Caldwell said at the Supreme Court.  “We absolutely cannot suffer this kind of devastating loss for our economy.”Caldwell says the constitution doesn’t authorize Congress to force citizens to buy a product or service from a private, for-profit enterprise.

Of course, Caldwell doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about at all. Turning to a much brighter legal mind, Balkin counters:

As I’ve explained elsewhere, the argument for the mandate’s constitutionality is very simple. Congress has the power, under the Commerce Clause, to regulate insurance, and so to mandate that insurers cover people with preexisting medical conditions. (The brief does not dispute this.) Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, it may choose any convenient means to carry out this end. The mandate is clearly helpful, and may even be absolutely necessary, to Congress’s purpose. Therefore it is constitutional. Full stop.

The Court will likely announce its decision at the end of their term in June or July.

Great Sunday Read: The GOP’s Crackpot Agenda

It’s not the clowns over at ALEC driving the party. As Tom Dickinson says in Rolling Stone, the whole party is completely and objectively off the deep end:

By all rights, 2012 ought to be a cakewalk for the GOP. Unemployment is pandemic. Riot police are confronting protesters in public squares and on college campuses. In an epic fail of foresight, the Democratic convention will be held in one of the world’s banking centers, Charlotte, North Carolina – setting the stage for violent clashes not seen since the streets of Chicago, 1968. “I hope they keep this up,” gloated Grover Norquist, one of the Republican Party’s most influential strategists. “Hippies elected Nixon. Occupy Wall Street will beat Obama.”

But don’t go writing the president’s political obituary just yet: He may wind up being resurrected by the GOP itself. The Republican Party – dominated by hardliners still cocky after the electoral sweep of 2010 – has backed its entire slate of candidates into far-right corners on everything from the environment and immigration to taxation and economic austerity. Whether the GOP opts for Mitt Romney or an “anti-Mitt” is almost entirely beside the point. On the major policy issues of the day, there’s barely a ray of sunshine between any of the viable Republicans, not counting those who have committed the sin of libertarianism (Ron Paul) or moderation (Jon Huntsman). No matter who winds up with the nomination, it appears, Obama will face a candidate to the right of Barry Goldwater.

Read the whole thing over on Rolling Stone dot com.

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