BR.healthcenterfund0284.020718 bf

Gov. John Bel Edwards chats with Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Jackson, left, after speaking about community health centers losing their funding since Congress has not re-authorized the federal funding that goes toward these health centers that mostly treat low-income, Medicaid patients across the state during a press conference at Southeast Community Health Systems Tuesday Feb. 6, 2018, in Zachary, La.

It’s all conservative all the time, with Gov. John Bel Edwards himself joining in the avid discussion of work requirements for Medicaid recipients, almost all of whom are elderly, disabled or children.

But for those who aren’t, isn’t it a full-employment bill from conservatives?

“In both the private and public sector, jobs are designed with an output in mind, with employing people a by-product. If employing people becomes the primary goal, then instead of starting with a job description and finding people who can do it, you start with the people you need to hire and then find work they’re qualified to do,” writes Jonathan Chait in New York magazine. “And this task would be undertaken, even with a several year ramp-up, on a massive scale.”

It’s not a case of the liberal Chait criticizing the Medicaid-flogging conservatives. He’s talking about the passion for a national full-employment promise from Democrats, which some estimates would cost up to half a trillion dollars a year to implement.

Maybe it’s a fantasy trifecta of leftist politics, ascendant populism and Democrats’ hunger for office. But Chait’s pungent criticism would apply just as well to Medicaid work requirements.

After all, what Chait called “this enormous managerial challenge” is applicable to the notion that the government is going to somehow set to work a large number of individuals who for good or bad reasons are not working today, or provide for them some alternative 20-or-so hours of public service work or nonprofit job. And who’s going to check up on the indentured servants? A Louisiana version of an Orwellian Ministry of Work?

Part of the problem of legislating from talk-radio soundbites is that it is easy to ignore administrative and managerial challenges of whatever sounds good. That the governor, the chief executive of the state, would even give lip-service to this inevitable bureaucratic quagmire is discouraging.

Email Lanny Keller at lkeller@theadvocate.com.

Lanny Keller: House GOP solution to Louisiana's budget problem won’t spare even the country club set