Blessed be those willing to compromise

Both of Louisiana’s senators are patting themselves on the back for their roles in passing the dubiously-named Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which both maintain would cut taxes for working families in Louisiana.

“The Tax Cut and Jobs Act cuts taxes for working and middle-income families,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy R-La. “It boosts the economy, repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate, preserves the Historic Tax Credit, gives tax relief to victims of the 2016 floods in North and South Louisiana and provides money to rebuild our coastline. This is a good bill for Louisiana and the United States.”

That was the justification cited in Cassidy’s press release applauding passage of the bill.

Our state’s junior senator, John Kennedy, focused more on the cold financial end of things.

“This bill is about three things: tax cuts, jobs, and more jobs,” said Kennedy. “It doesn’t take an expert to see what’s stalling the American economy: middle-class families need to see more of their hard-earned dollars in their bank accounts. This bill gives them that while allowing American job creators the freedom and flexibility they need to increase wages and create jobs.”

As did the senior senator, Kennedy noted the obliteration of individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Neither senator mentions that removing the mandate without some form of spreading risk among insurance companies will cripple the system, and in the long run therefore strip healthcare from an untold number of people in their home state. But that is another discussion for another time.

There is too much that is too tenuous about the bill both senators are touting.

To his credit, Cassidy notes the coastal restoration provisions in the bill, and in particular the emergency funds that will help flood-stricken folks in Baton Rouge and other Louisiana towns. Cassidy has been in the senate long enough, it would appear, to perhaps have done some creative horse-trading for the benefit of the Bayou State and if that’s the case we tip our hats.

Kennedy makes no mention of the coastal issues, but that does not surprise us. He will likely need some time in order to fully appreciate the needs we have here in Terrebonne and Lafourche.

Cassidy has the sensitivity and can be a good teacher.

Cassidy brought coastal issues to the attention of the Secretary of the Interior last week, a jaunt initiated at Cassidy’s invitation and time that was no doubt well spent. With them was Garret Graves, a congressman who knows plenty about coastal issues. Kennedy could have benefitted had he been there.

The point here is not to bash these lawmakers who represent us. But we have a word of advice. Louisiana’s ability to weather disasters and make the most out of hard times, as well as to make it a place of importance in national political circles came from the ability of its lawmakers to work across the political aisle. Our current lawmakers appear too willing to adopt party-spawned bromides than to act independently, free of party shackles. Cassidy has displayed the most promise in terms of being able to do this. Perhaps, had some of his base ideas for Affordable Care Act reform been vetted in a bi-partisan manner, the nation would be closer to a solution. Likewise, his statements on the tax bill appear tuned in to Louisiana’s needs, which is more than can be said for Kennedy.

Louisiana has a history of senators who were statesmen, who put country before party. It is an art that is rapidly becoming lost. Those of either party in these take-no-prisoners times of shifting truths can prove to be American heroes, because statesmanship is what both parties are sorely missing. Democrats complain that they didn’t have a chance to read the budget. Republicans say they didn’t have a chance to read the ACA. It needs to stop now.

As Cassidy matures and faces the realization that he won’t be running against Barack Obama, which was how he conducted the campaign that launched him into Washington, he may prove a refreshing exception to the trend of dog-like party loyalty. He is a physician, not a bureaucracy.

For Kennedy our hopes are not as high. But there is always the chance he can learn.. •