How many times must Rep. Cedric Richmond have to vote against his constituents’ self-interests before they find him too tiresome to reelect?
The Democrat, whose district travels along the Mississippi River to include parts of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, recently voted against both the tax cuts favored by Republican President Donald Trump and on the disaster relief measures addressing 2016 calamities in Louisiana. Both passed, with affirmative votes by the state’s other House members. The tax reform legislation has become law with Trump’s signature.
The pending assistance bill includes changes that would remove numerous bureaucratic roadblocks for the state’s flooding victims, many of whom reside in the Capital Region. It also puts the state in line to receive hundreds of millions of dollars to address the catastrophe.
However, Richmond preferred putting his party’s wishes ahead of those of the state’s people. He joined most Democrats in opposing the measure, although he said he agreed with many of its provisions. That’s because, instead of focusing on Louisiana, his interests lay with the Virgin Islands. He argued the bill wouldn’t distribute enough money to that U.S. territory, rejecting the measure that would have benefitted citizens in his district.
Richmond did say he might support the bill if the Senate, which has yet to act upon it, shovels more money offshore. But should the upper chamber not do so, he still should ignore his party leadership, which is ordering him to stymie help to his constituents over presumed slights to people nearly two thousand miles away.
But Richmond also stabbed his district in the back by voting against changing the tax code comprehensively. Worse, his nose grew noticeably in the process.
On social media, Richmond explained that he voted against the bill because it gave the top one percent of earners too much of the federal income tax cuts, only allowed a $10,000 deduction for state and local taxes, and allegedly would “result in 86 million middle-class households seeing a tax increase.”
In reality, the law immediately cuts taxes for most federal filers. The typical single-filer household in Richmond’s district, with a median income of $36,798 that indicates lower middle class, will see a decrease in tax liability of $708. With that same income level, a household of married parents and a child would pay no federal income taxes.
So how can Richmond absurdly claim the law makes a third of all Americans suffer higher taxes? That parrots a statement from Democrats’ House leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi and is based upon the individual reductions lapsing in 2027, as if filers never enjoyed a decade of paying less. And, politically speaking, letting these expire never will happen – unless Democrats win the presidency in 2024 or a House or Senate majority in 2026.
Even “fact check” organizations, which often seamlessly incorporate leftist assumptions into their supposedly impartial evaluations, couldn’t stomach that allegation and pronounced it blatantly false. Just like the notion that Richmond bases his policy-making on what’s best for his district’s residents.
Jeff Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, where he teaches Louisiana government. He is author of a blog about Louisiana politics at www.between-lines.com, where links to information in this column may be found. When the Louisiana Legislature is in session, he writes about legislation in it at www.laleglog.com. Follow him on Twitter, @jsadowadvocate or write firstname.lastname@example.org. His views do not necessarily express those of his employer.