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|Call Landrieu's bluff|
When a couple splits up there's his side of the story and there's her's. Somewhere in between is the truth.
The same rule, or the same scenario, usually applies in politics.
Such most likely is the case concerning the flap over Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision to remain somewhat quiet in light of Sen. Mary Landrieu securing $300 million to aid Louisiana's Medicaid program. The $300 million is intended to help shore up an $800 million deficit in the state's Medicaid program in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The deficit will occur because the federal government believes Louisiana and her residents are wealthier today than they were in years past. The government came to its conclusion after reflecting upon average incomes in the state following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As we all know, income levels in the state rose following the storms because of economic activity created by an infusion of federal funding to help the state and its residents rebuild in the wake of the storms.
It's ridiculous to pass judgment on the state's future needs in operating its Medicaid program, or health care program for the poor, based on the state's economic performance in the past. However, that's exactly how the federal government decides how much money it will appropriate for a Medicaid program in a given state. Accordingly, since we all supposedly made so much money in late 2005, 2006 and in 2007, the federal government will spend less money on Louisiana's Medicaid program over the next five years. Truth be told, the state is facing a $1.5 billion-$2.5 billion Medicaid shortfall over the next five years thanks to the federal government's proposed reimbursement formula.
As you will recall, Landrieu secured a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for Louisiana to receive the $300 million for its beleaguered Medicaid program in the new fiscal year if Landrieu agreed to vote "yea" on a Senate resolution to allow debate to begin over a health care reform bill. The health care bill faced the threat of a filibuster. Sixty votes were needed to shut down the filibuster threat, allowing the Senate to begin deliberations on the Obama administration's most important issue to date. Landrieu, a so-called moderate Democrat, represented one of the last votes the liberal Democratic leadership in the Senate needed to move forward on the health care bill. She played ball with Reid and got what she demanded in return, the $300 million, or some $500 million less than what Louisiana needs to balance its Medicaid budget in the new fiscal year.
In what would appear to be his intention to remain somewhat bipartisan, Jindal, a Republican, hasn't said a word about Landrieu's fancy footwork, except for a statement the governor's office gave CNN. The Left-leaning television news network wanted to know what Jindal thought about conservative talk show hosts calling Landrieu a prostitute over the deal she cut with Reid.
Jindal didn't take the bait.
Instead, the statement his office gave CNN said, in part, "The bill is awful, but it is unfair to criticize Senator Landrieu or the rest of our (congressional) delegation for fighting to correct this injustice to Louisiana. Our entire delegation is working together across party lines to correct this flawed formula."
In politics, that's what we would describe as riding the fence.
It could be argued, though, that it was a wise move by Jindal.
It could be argued that it was a wise move because No. 1, the Jindal administration desperately needs the $300 million Landrieu garnered for the state's Medicaid program. Otherwise, the Jindal administration would be forced to recommend that the Legislature cut the $300 million from Medicaid. Remember, no one likes to cut funding for the poor. No. 2, if Jindal had sided with conservative talk show hosts in calling Landrieu a prostitute, that would have played into Landrieu's hands politically.
Allow me to explain.
When Glen Beck, Moon Griffon and Rush Limbaugh called Landrieu a prostitute she very wisely defended her actions as doing her job in working to better her state. Simply fighting for Louisiana is what Landrieu said.
Liberals defended Landrieu. Moderates did, too.
Yet, there's probably more to Jindal playing it safe over the deal Landrieu made with Reid. Quite frankly, it would not come as a surprise if Landrieu had not communicated to Jindal directly or indirectly that she would pull the amendment to the health care bill appropriating the $300 million for the state's Medicaid program if the governor criticized her publicly.
If that's the case, Jindal may want to consider calling Landrieu's bluff. Go ahead, call the amendment what it is, and let's see if Landrieu has the backbone to put the screws to her own state.