Bobby Jindal to Poor Louisianans: Drop Dead

Last week, I wrote on how Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was transforming his state’s tax system, from a mixed collection of corporate, income and sales taxes, to one where corporate and income taxes have been eliminated, and sales taxes are hiked to make up for lost revenue. In other words, Jindal wants to turn Louisiana’s marginally progressive tax structure into a fully regressive one, which places its largest tax burden on its most vulnerable citizens.

If Jindal were also proposing a large expansion of state services, this would make sense. Overall, the progressivity of the tax burden is less important than the level of redistribution. A state with regressive taxes but robust public benefits is better for lower-income people than one with progressive taxes but few benefits.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t describe Jindal’s Louisiana. To wit, he has authorized elimination of the state’s hospice program for Medicaid recipients. According to a local New Orleans news station, Louisiana residents over the age of 21 will stop receiving hospice benefits at the end of the month. As of February, low-income Louisianans with terminal illnesses and disabilities will lose access to long-term home and medical care.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals defends this as a cost-saving measure: Over the next two years, Louisiana will save $8.3 million by ending state-funded hospice care. But that’s a paltry sum compared to the state’s $900 million deficit. And in the same way that raising Medicare eligibility increases costs by moving seniors into more expensive private insurance plans, these cuts will, in the end, place a greater burden on the state, as low-income Louisianans turn to nearby hospitals and ICUs, shifting the burden to localities.

In isolation, it’s a disaster of a plan. When coupled with existing cuts to education and a large tax increase on the bottom 80 percent of Louisiana residents, it’s a catastrophe. Indeed, Jindal seems devoted to engineering a Louisiana that works little for its most vulnerable citizens, and does as much as possible to satisfy the wants of wealthy, entrenched interests.


"A state with regressive taxes but robust public benefits is better for lower-income people than one with progressive taxes but few benefits."

Obviously. But that's not what's under debate, really.

Jindal, like the rest of the fiscally conservative governors, realize that a JOB is of far more financial value to an individual than a dole. Or, put another way, the total received value of all entitled doles never adds up to the total received value of even a low-wage job. If it does, your society quickly goes into a tailspin and you have to readjust (if you doubt that, do a little research on how Sweden has pulled back on tax rates and beneifts over the last forty years.)

In the states, reality bites hard. There are no language or major cultural barriers between moving from California to Texas, so it happens not infrequently as the taxation AND job opportunity systems benefit the latter. Louisiana, additionally hampered by a state income tax system which has a loophole for every business that would donate to or drink with Edwin Edwards and his famously corrupt predecessors.

Bobby wants part of the Texas in-migration of business before he becomes President. To get that, he needs to reform what is likely the worst tax code in the nation (sales, property, income) which is famous for unfair set-asides. To do that, you create a backbone structure you can then adapt to future needs.

Let him do so without the armchair quarterbacking. And, to address your crocodile tears about the "poor", keep in mind that a HUGE proportion of the out-migration of low-income people after Katrina STAYED IN TEXAS, because the quality of life there for them (including services) was better than in Louisiana.,

Why don't liberals recognize that ALL taxes are regressive, if not as obvious? The only difference, as usual, is that this author believes taxation for govt redistribution - highly inefficient - while conservatives know a better economic climate will encourage growth and employment, reduced cost of living and the need for inefficient redistribution.

History has nearly always shown that societies have declined when elites have possessed too much of the overall wealth of a nation. This is exactly what is happening in the US. Our distribution of wealth is comparable to what we have seen in past nations that have begun to enter a decline. What would your recommendations be to help fix this? Or do you you believe that this is just the natural order of the world? There are ways to implement government policy that promote a more equal society. The reason we don't want to redistribute all wealth is because it ruins innovation and efficiency, but the current structure is bound to do the same. There is a middle point where we can find balance.

Taxes on natural resources, and especially land, aren't regressive. They fall primarily on the wealthy and big corporations, and they cannot be shifted to consumers/customers because resource owners are already collecting all the traffic will bear.

"Home hospice care usually costs less than care in hospitals, nursing homes, or other institutional settings. This is because less high-cost technology is used and family and friends provide most of the care at home." --American Cancer Society

It seems to me that cutting spending on hospice care may be counterproductive.

By the moronic logic being expressed in these comments, you would expect the South to be the most prosperous region in the country, since no other region of the country has a "better" economic climate. The South was the poorest part of the country 150 years ago; after 150 years of generally benighted conservative dominance it is STILL the poorest part of the country; and it will probably still be the poorest part of the country in 2163. If they keep electing conservatives, there's no doubt of it.

The low information/slow thought process limitations of the American political left strike again - in this article and especially in this post. First, note that the South was the Solid South for DEMOCRATS during most of those 150 years, with Republicans coming to the forefront only in the last 20-30 and an uphill battle on their hands to overcome the situation that had developed under generations of monolithic Democrat control.

And they have succeeded. Steph, I know this is going to confuse you and be extremely hard for you to understand but things have changed in the South since the 60's. Everything has not stood still since the heyday of the American left. Racism is now most predominant in the northern cities (you know, the ones run by Democrat machine politics - go ahead an look up the most segregated places in America; they are not in the South. You will also find their is a steady migration of Blacks back to the South for better opportunities and better treatment - )

As for poverty - wake up, the South is where the jobs are and the cost of living is cheaper. For decades, the leftist bureaucrats of the Federal government have tried to mislead people about the real nature of poverty in this country. Too many blue states needed to look superior to the allegedly poor South in order to contunue their failed experiments in welfare. However, even bureaucracy has to face reality eventually and they changed from the archaic "poverty threshold" (which was the same everywhere, regardless of cost of living) and developed the Supplemental Poverty Measure - something that much more accurately demonstrates financial reality.

So what parts of the country are really POOR! It is not the South, it is not the Midwest. Oh no, fly-over country is doing fine. This sick beasts are on the coasts with the number 1 highest rate of real poverty belonging directly to the ultra-blue state of California with a whopping 23.5% of its population living in dire straights ( Who is next? Who else but the most wildly Democrat driven place in America, the District of Columbia (at 23.2)! Of course, we should have known this already because they also lead the nation in welfare recipients per capita (

Where does Bobby Jindal's state stand in terms of poverty??? A little above the national average (17 percent versus 15.8) but that still means that CA and DC have about 35% more per folks per capita than the poor downtrodden souls of LA. Texas and Mississippi are both doing better than LA that with decrepit Missisiippi actual right at the national average. Who else is doing well - both Carolinas, Tennesee, West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama are all well below the national average.

Steph, you probably should not use the term "moronic" without looking in a mirror.

There's that "Democrat controlled South" canard again. The truth is, the ruling political ideology under today's Southern Republicans is the very same ideology (and has included some of the same politicians and voters) as the old Southern Democrats, who in 1948 ran Strom Thurmond for President under the label Dixiecrat. The national Democratic party (national meaning non-Southern) rebuilt itself with workers, some farmers, immigrants of non-Anglo-Saxon-Puritan culture, etc. after the Civil War, to fight for the economic and cultural rights of lower and middle income non-WASP voters. In the South, they had to put up with the old guard (after Reconstruction was ended too early) in order to be a viable party, and the Southern "Dixiecrats" had an uneasy alliance with national Democrats, in order to get federal funds to recover economically; they agreed not to talk about racism (see Huey Long) in order to avoid a breakup and get federal pork projects (TVA, Oak Ridge, military bases, etc.). The racists hated Eleanor, but needed Franklin and his programs.

When Truman desegregated the Armed Forces in 1948, the Dixiecrats tried to revolt, but they were not economically strong enough to do so until after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Then began the long transition by which Dixiecrats became Republicans, and TRUE Democrats remained in the party of Jefferson. And all that experience with non-WASP voting blocs gave us an empathy toward the downtrodden, rather than a desire to trod them down some more, as Bobby Jindal and others propose.

However, the new GOP is worse than the old Democratic party in several ways, most notably in that, rather than allow both religious/cultural conservatives and economic-only conservatives to hold power in their own regions, they have allowed the poison of racism to rule their entire national party as well as the Southern branches.

Historically, the Dixiecrat-turned-Republican states have all (except for Texas, which is just so darn BIG its economy is better than the rest) had to accept MORE help from the feds than they send into Washington in taxes, while the "blue" states pay more in taxes than they receive (or NEED to receive) in federal benefits. Further, the "blue" states as a rule can help more of their poor before they need federal funds, because they have the prosperity to be taxed and the progressive attitudes to do so.

So, let the "red" states secede, it will be better for the budget of the new USA without them. Just wait till I can move to a blue state before a passport would be needed, then secede. The average IQ of Americans will improve also.

"First, note that the South was the Solid South for DEMOCRATS during most of those 150 years, with Republicans coming to the forefront only in the last 20-30 and an uphill battle on their hands to overcome the situation that had developed under generations of monolithic Democrat control."
This red herring will never die! The South was ruled by racist, neo-Confederates since the 1800's. Party labels did not and still do not matter. The same ruling class has morphed from 'States Rights Democrats', to Dixiecrats to the latest incarnation, Republicans. You can change the name on the letterhead but the same goals, the same practices prevail.

You are making a common mistake. The words democrats and republicans are only labels, the policies they are associated with is what is really important. The south has generally been known to have more conservative beliefs while the north has had more progressive beliefs, although there has been some fluctuation in this. Whether conservative goes with the party label of democratic, republican, whig, or federalist is really irrelevant. Certain policies promote certain outcomes. Your post shows that you are more interested in party politics and finding a victory for your party that the actually policy decisions that promote better societal outcomes.

I know facts, reason, rationality does not matter to someone like Bouie, but, a recent study done by economist Jens Arnold for OECD (you know the club of those countries that provide best prospects for their citizens) suggests that the corporate income tax was the most harmful to economic growth, followed by the personal income tax, while taxes on consumption and property had the least impact on an economy.
Even fithere a study by Arnold and four other economists using OECD data estimated that every one percent shift in tax revenues away from income taxes towards other levies produced an additional one-quarter to one percentage point gain in economic growth, you know the thing that provides, whatchamacallem, jobs.
And as far back as 50 years ago Harvard Professor Stanley Surrey, JFK's assistant treasury secretary for tax policy, did a study that suggested that spending through the tax code on social goals was less effective than direct government expenditures, expenditures that could actually be raised if your economy grows faster.
OK, this brief window on reality closes, back to your fantasy world, Bouie.

Obama said we need "bold, persistent experimentation." It seems that not all experimentation is allowed. We can experiment greatly increasing spending, greatly raising taxes, greatly expanding the size of the federal government, and greatly growing the scope of federal power over the most intimate relationships in our lives.

We can't experiment reducing taxes, reducing spending, reducing the size of government, and reducing the intrusion of government into our perosnal lives.

So the talk about experimentation is just a bald-faced lie in the end. This is the face of statism.

We did that "experiment" during the Reagan/Bush and then the W. Bush years. The result was increasing relative poverty for poor and middle class citizens, while a new Gilded Age created bigger billionaires than ever, climaxed by the Great Recession (like 1921 to 1929). If you were fortunate enough to be in the top one percent, or fortunate enough not to have lost your job and home YET, you may not have felt the pain.

And Republicans do not mind intrusive government to make sure that you follow the religious preferences of your employer and politicians (in preference to those of your OWN religion). Remember Governor Ultrasound?

Instead of "drop dead" it is more like "please disappear". We don't want your suffering to hurt business. The two themes of US politics are the split between having social programs and using a business matrix that ignores social needs. Supposedly only those paying taxes count as in only white men owning property can vote. Except even when white men had the vote, wealthy white men had court-ordered responsibility for those who needed shelter and work. Perhaps it was slave labor, but never did we totally ignore social need. Time to to get real and stop the red state posturing. Or perhaps we will divide ourselves by moving to either red or blue states. Right now the blue states pay more to the red states.

This is one more tired, platitude-poisoned article lamenting "the most vulnerable" (a euphemism for 'welfare careerist') is going to have something not given to them any longer which they have not earned. That day of reckoning is here Mr. Bouie. And it's never going back to FDR era wealth transfer again. The wealthy have sacrificed enough. It's time for people who have not managed their personal lives and finance to become accountable.

Yes those southern elite have sacrificed so much. We could never accuse them of taking advantage of minorities or people from impoverished backgrounds, except of the majority of American history that is.

No such thing as a progressive tax. As for redistribution if it worked people on welfare would not be in poverty. Malcom X warned against taking this kind of charity as it would make you dependent on the government and destroy your character.

If the regressive tax attracts more business, which the indications are it will, then the creation of jobs that go with them will do more for the poor than all the government programs. That is why liberals are scared of them.

People on welfare wait for checks. They live in poor housing, have poor prospects, never have an opportunity for improvement. The libs are lucky they sell their sell votes so cheaply.

The poor should ask the lib patrons, "where's my house? where's my car? when do I get to spend a week at Disney or the like? Why are you flying to Hawaii, Martha's Vineyards, Las Vegas on my dime? Why do you get medical treatment in the best hospitals when I have to sit in a broken down one?"

If they would listen to conservatives they would get their job. In a few years they would have their house and nice car. A year or so after that they would take their whole family on vacations to wherever they chose. They would retire one day and watch there children enjoy the same successes they did.

That is what the "Jindahls" want for them.

Or they can do what they have done for over 50 years and get the same thing they have for that time.

The policy of other countries has shown that there are ways of implementing policy that create a safe and productive society while still promoting equality among different classes. Right now the US is stuck in the middle ground between encouraging people to fend for themselves and just handing out a monthly check for food or rent with little oversight. These are not the only two options that we have available to us.

The problem with these types of initiatives, as we have seen in nearly every state, is that the governments don't perceive the potential downfalls as the writer has pointed out. By taking away resources from one thing we can often force people to utilize something else. In this case, those will most likely be hospitals and emergency rooms, which are often times much more expensive. This is happening time and again and in reality we are saving a much smaller amount of money than we think we are.

Interesting article. It would appear that Jindal and LA would like for more people to save rather than grow the economy through constant spending. By eliminating the Income Tax and the Corporate Tax, you are placing the burden upon the lowest income classes, as to the non-disposable incomes. This will mean one of a few things could happen. Either people start buying things across the state lines (some will do that anyway), or people will quit spending money on just about anything, including medical care.

Its an interesting concept if your goal is a race to the bottom.

The policy of other countries has shown that there are ways of implementing policy that create a safe and productive society while still promoting equality among different classes. Right now the US is stuck in the middle ground between encouraging people to fend for themselves and just handing out a monthly check for food or rent with little oversight. These are not the only two options that we have available to us.

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