The GOP House members who sided with Rep. Sherman Mack in the speaker’s race are not happy with the election results that saw Rep. Clay Schexnayder elevated to the lower chamber’s top leadership post. While the two Republicans hold similar views on top conservative priorities such as tort “reform,” Rep. Blake Miguez said the vote should serve as a “litmus test” of who is a true conservative. The Advocate’s Sam Karlin:
“Our Republican delegation lost that race,” Miguez said at an East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Party luncheon. “The governor won. The House’s independence was out the window at that point. This is where we sit today.” Miguez’s comments indicate the rift within the House Republican delegation that was exposed in Monday’s vote for speaker left lingering mistrust and frayed nerves among members of the party.
The Advocate’s editorial board sees the election results as an opportunity for a fresh start in a chamber that too often broke down along partisan lines during the past four years:
The system falls apart if they are indulging in point-scoring instead of collaboration. All too often in the last four years, the House — always a bit more fractious with its 105 members — became a scene of legislative chaos. The series of special sessions interspersed with the regular annual meetings of the Legislature was not a good sign. On the human level, it wore out part-time legislators with real jobs back home.
Columnist Stephanie Grace writes that Schexnayder’s election could mean that committees – where bills face their first major test – could be less stridently partisan.
As for those committee assignments, the people who get them tend to be the ones who backed the winner. So look for the Republicans in power to be the more moderate ones, in approach if not ideology. Schexnayder, like Mack, has a conservative record, but in his first turn at the mic as speaker, he took an emotional stand for the chamber’s independence and against Washington-style partisan warfare. We’ll see if he’s able to make that stick.
Race, health care and a history of mistrust
While the national health care debate has centered on issues of cost and coverage, The New York Times’ Austin Frakt reminds us that people of color in America receive less health care – and often worse care – than their white counterparts. While economic factors play a major role in these disparities, so does the legacy of mistrust symbolized by the infamously racist Tuskegee experiments.
According to work by the economists Marcella Alsan and Marianne Wanamaker, black men are less likely than white men to seek health care and more likely to die at younger ages. Their analysis suggests that one-third of the black-white gap in male life expectancy in the immediate aftermath of the study could be attributed to the legacy of distrust connected to the Tuskegee study.
The cost of canceling student debt
U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have both proposed canceling student debt in America. There has been a major question in the cost of their proposals and how the plan could be enacted. However, Warren announced a shortcut that could bypass Congress and cancel debt for millions. Cory Turner of NPR has more on the legality and fesabile of this plan:
43 million student borrowers owe the U.S. government $1.5 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Education. And until now, the department has only offered student loan forgiveness or cancellation to borrowers who meet certain criteria. “Maybe it’s because they’ve been working in a public service position or because they become disabled or because they’re saying that their school fundamentally cheated them,” says Eileen Connor, legal director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. “Those pathways exist. And I think what Sen. Warren’s proposal is pointing out is that there’s also this freestanding power that the secretary of education has to cancel debts, not for those reasons, but really for any reason at all.”
Historical trends in income inequality
Income inequalities are denying people their right to shared prosperity. The root cause of income inequality can be traced to many policy choices in the past decades. Chad Stone, Danilo Trisi, Arloc Sherman, Jennifer Beltran of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has more on the historical trends on this very problem:
Then, beginning in the 1970s, income disparities began to widen, with income growing much faster at the top of the ladder than in the middle or bottom. Household (as opposed to family) income data, which are available only since 1967, show a similar pattern of widening inequality and scant growth in median income and income at the 20th percentile following the 1999 and 2007 business cycle peaks. While the Census family income data are useful for illustrating that income inequality began widening in the 1970s, other data are superior for assessing more recent trends.
Number of the Day
$1.5 billion – State financial incentives offered to Formosa Plastics Group to build a massive ethane cracker complex in St. James Parish. (Source: The Advocate)