Cassidy: Louisiana has answers for nation’s woes

Dorothy Legendre
May 30, 2011
TEDA takes a u-turn in exec search
June 1, 2011
Dorothy Legendre
May 30, 2011
TEDA takes a u-turn in exec search
June 1, 2011

“I think he is going to be the real deal,” Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet said of Rep. William Cassidy following the congressman’s presentation last Tuesday to members of the South Central Industrial Association.

Cassidy, R-Livingston, is the newly designated congressman for the northern part of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes according to a redistricting plan that has been sent to the U.S. Department of Justice for review and approval.

Some in attendance expected Cassidy’s presentation to SCIA to be one of simply telling former 3rd District of Louisiana residents that they are not forgotten. Instead, Cassidy stressed the importance of this region as a working example not only to the entire state, but the nation as well.

“I truly think the folks of south Louisiana are taken for granted,” Cassidy said during his opening statements. “We have answers in south Louisiana that actually can apply for the rest of the nation.”

Cassidy pointed out big issues that reach from the Tri-parish region to the nation including energy on the overall economy, health care reform offering power to the patient, being both pro-business and pro-environment, and addressing the national debt.

Regarding the economy, Cassidy said that unemployment is not generally distributed. “We talk about petro-chemical, oil and gas, as creating jobs when it creates jobs not only for those employed in the industry, but it creates jobs for folks like insurance salesmen,” Cassidy said, while he used his own father as an example of someone whose career was directly impacted because of the oil industry clients he had.

“If we think about it, prior to the [offshore drilling] moratorium, the Terrebonne-Lafourche area had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, and the jobs that were here were good paying jobs with good benefits,” Cassidy said. “So when I speak to people in Washington, D.C., about oil and gas, I comment to them that we have a problem with unemployment so let’s look at south Louisiana … specifically at Terrebonne and Lafourche.”

Health care, Cassidy said, is a major focus nationally, and one that historically, when oil production has been down, kept the economy going. He noted that 20 percent of all Americans are uninsured and, as a physician, he has recognized if health care is not properly addressed it could have a negative impact on everyone.

“The challenges for health care reform is for No. 1, take care of those 20 percent of us that are uninsured, and No. 2 do it in a way that doesn’t break the bank,” Cassidy said, while opposing government having central control on treatment policies.

“I’ve learned in my 20 years of taking care of patients, if you give power to the patient when she walks into the room, and she knows she is in control, then typically she is going to make the right decision for her and the right decision for her pocketbook,” Cassidy said. “We’ve got to have a system where the patient is in charge and not a federal bureaucracy.”

The third issue addressed by Cassidy was generating an understanding that it is important to be both pro-business and pro-environment. Cassidy mentioned the significance of coastal renewal to help keep offshore and shipping in south Louisiana operational.

The final issue the congressman covered was the national debt and the outlook for today’s working adults wanting to offer their children a future as good as their parents were able to provide for them.

“If we’re borrowing 41 percent of the money we are currently spending from China, Japan, England and elsewhere, how can we know that our children and grandchildren paying off that debt will have a better future?” he asked.

Cassidy said that expenditures on entitlements are part of the overall problem regarding national debt. He estimated that if current policies would be maintained, by 2035 the entire amount being received in federal taxes would be consumed by Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

“[With the current national debt] there will be nothing left for coastal restoration,” he said. “Nothing left for roads, for the military, for higher education, or for health care with the exception of Medicare and Medicaid.”

“We’ve got to have some reforms,” Cassidy said. “It is going to be a challenge. But, frankly we are up to that challenge. If we don’t confront those issues then our children will be worse off. If we do, the prosperity that we wish for our children and grandchildren will be all but guaranteed. The broader message is that … we are … the spirit … and economic engine for the rest of the country,” Cassidy said.

“Congressman Cassidy has been very interested in our area,” Claudet said. “He wants to become very well-versed with our people and our problems. On the flyover we took over barge structure on the Bayou Chene and on the Morganza we explained to him our problems in the western end of the parish. And we’re explaining to him our hurricane protection problems as well as our coastal erosion problems. We have similar problems in the rest of the parish. All the other issues that affect the rest of the nation. But these are problems that most particularly are attributable to Terrebonne. Backwater flooding from the Atchafalaya, coastal erosion, and hurricane protection and of course we want to get our people back to work with drilling. He is right on top of all of it.”

Other agenda items during the SCIA meeting included announcing new officers for the organization’s 2011-2012 year. Taking the leadership roles are Gulf Island Fabrication CEO Kirk Meche as president, Ted Falgout and Associates owner Ted Falgout as executive president, Weatherford General Manager Patrick Seeley as vice president, Rig-Chem President Lori Davis as secretary, Charles Theriot CPA as treasurer, and directors ASLR & Falck Alford owner Tony Alford, Allied Shipyard Vice President of Operations Tony Boudreaux, Bollinger Shipyards Vice President Lynn Falgout, SEACOR Marine Vice President Robert Clemons, Shaw Coastal President O’Neil Malbrough, and Bourgeois Bennett CPA Director Ed Bouterie. New officers and directors will be sworn in during the SCIA Awards banquet on June 8.

“This is a great group of folks because they are nice people but also because they create jobs,” Cassidy said following the meeting.

Cassidy said that he was interested in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes long before he knew he would be representing the region. “If you go back and look at my YouTubes I talked about the Terrebonne Lafourche area as being an example for the rest of the country. The kind of jobs that the rest of the country are looking for have been created here. Now that I know I’m going to represent this place I’m really going to have that message because I think it is important to our country that they understand the example that is created here.”

Newly named South Central Industrial Association President Kirk Meche gets a laugh with Rep. William Cassidy as they became acquainted during a SCIA membership meeting. MIKE NIXON