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Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019

If It Looks Like a Duck ...

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There’s no such thing as a conservative Democrat

“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck,” right? This is often said when you are making a point that you can identify an unknown situation by just observing the characteristics of that situation. Well, in 2015, 56 percent of Louisiana voters believed John Bel Edwards looked, swam and quacked like a “conservative Democrat,” which is really an oxymoron – kind of like being an “honest thief” or a “wise fool,” because there’s really no such thing as a “conservative Democrat.

No, John Bel Edwards is just a plain oldfashioned, bitterly partisan, tax-and-spend liberal, and his prognosticating before the Baton Rouge Press Club earlier this month shows why.

You see, in foretelling the fate of Louisiana’s upcoming legislative session, the governor said he wants to raise the minimum wage in Louisiana to $8 in 2020 and then raise it again to $8.50 in 2021. He wants to give $1,000 annual pay raises for school teachers and $500 raises for support staff (oh, isn’t this an election year?), including for cafeteria workers and school bus drivers – across the board – saying it’s really an “investment” in our children. He also wants to get into the underpants of every small business in Louisiana by making it illegal for business owners to keep their employees’ wage information confidential – within their own company! Edwards says that’s because he wants to eliminate “pay secrecy” in the workplace, and thereby reduce Louisiana’s gender pay gap because Louisiana has “the highest wage gap in the United States.”

But for such a “conservative Democrat,” John Bel Edwards sounds more like he’s running for re-election in California or New York – not Louisiana. These legislative “ideas” he’s floated out there are not new. Nor are they original. And frankly, they’re not even good ones. They are tried-and-true examples of legislation that has passed, yet hardly ever achieved any beneficial result.

Raising the minimum wage, for example, has been tried many times in order to provide a “livable wage.” I understand this, and it’s important. But you actually end up increasing unemployment in the process. How can you make a living wage when you’re out of a job?

Even the Congressional Budget Office says raising the minimum wage to $15, for example, will cause 6.6 million Americans to lose their jobs – and these will be the least skilled and poorest among us losing their jobs. Seattle recently raised their minimum wage, and after just nine months, about 5,000 low-skill jobs had just disappeared. Poof. Gone. Not only that, but the number of hours worked (by those still employed) dropped by 3.5 million hours, and overall wages to those workers fell by $6 million. This isn’t a good idea, Governor.

How about raising teacher pay? Of course. Who doesn’t want to improve education in our state by paying more to those teachers who work tirelessly (and often thanklessly) to create a challenging, nurturing environment for our children? But if you don’t have an objective teacher evaluation system to get rid of low performers and reward high achievers, aren’t you just rewarding mediocrity? And, oh, by the way, what if teacher pay isn’t correlated to students’ academic performance?

For example, California ranks among the highest in teacher salaries, and yet student test scores have remained flat for years. In fact, California has increased their “investment” (as John Bel Edwards would say) per student from more than $3,800 to a projected $15,000 this year, and yet California’s poor students still rank next to last (compared to every state in the country) in their academic performance.

Finally, how about that gender pay gap issue you brought up? President Kennedy addressed this in 1963 when he signed the Equal Pay Act, and in doing so, it’s already illegal to pay someone less on the basis of their sex for equal work on jobs requiring the same skill, effort and responsibility. But yeah, if you want a Louisiana state law to say the same thing, let’s do it. But you should know that California passed the nation’s toughest equal pay law four years ago, and they are still next to last in reducing the gender pay gap. It’s estimated that women in California earn 88 percent of what men are paid.

Now, all of these issues raised by John Bel Edwards at the Baton Rouge Press Club have one thing in common: They all appeal to the dyed-in-the-wool Democrat voter base – almost half of whom are already saying they would like to vote for someone different (anyone else) than John Bel this fall.

If that’s how Democrats feel about their “duck” now, what real chance does he have to paddle past the rest of us – and into the Governor’s Mansion – once again?

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.

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