The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed by Democrats last month is popular, which is to be expected since pollsters stick to adult voters and nobody surveys the children who will be saddled with the $1.9 trillion in debt, plus interest.
For that sum, it’s easy to make a lot of people happy.
That includes the local politicians who deserved help, but in many cases will get new money to spend that exceeds the losses incurred because of curtailed consumer spending during the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
But now it’s becoming clear that the measure spread out the stimulus spending for Louisiana in ways that are unfair and poorly designed.
The winner in the stimulus derby was New Orleans, which received $967 per resident, according to reporting by David Mitchell of The Advocate. Baton Rouge has similar problems to New Orleans, but the dole was less than half as much, $431 per resident.
Suburban parishes did worse. Jefferson, St. Tammany, Ascension and Livingston got a little more than a quarter as much per person as Orleans.
The measure also favored parishes with more municipal governments.
Livingston Parish has 6,000 more people than Tangipahoa Parish and has the same number of municipalities, but Tangipahoa has more of its overall population living in those incorporated communities than Livingston does — almost a 2-to-1 difference, census estimates show.
So Tangipahoa got more money despite having fewer people.
It won’t to most Louisiana voters, and indeed, our legislative delegation voted unanimously against the bill. (The Democratic House seat centered on New Orleans was vacant when the vote was held.)
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge, was part of a group of moderate Republicans who tried to offer a more modest stimulus of $600 billion, and the best solution might have been to find a bipartisan solution somewhere in between. Democrats say the proposal left some needs unmet, and Republicans say that the Biden administration never made a counteroffer.
A bipartisan bill might have smoothed out some of these inequities and tamped down on criticism that the aid was targeted to Democratic cities. That’s unfortunate because there are valid justifications for steering money toward communities that are poor and were more impacted by the health crisis.
One is New Orleans, for it is a worldwide tourist mecca and the collapse of the hospitality industry is a real crisis in that region.
Our strong preference for a bipartisan solution is a bit out of date, because the state of the cage match on Capitol Hill is that the parties stick almost entirely to their corners. And Republicans — including Cassidy — were blithely unconcerned with the high costs of President Donald Trump's corporate tax cuts in 2017. When the economy was roaring, that was a time to pay off the government's debt, not add to it.
The last, we guess, is another old-fashioned notion.
The politicians who are giving away the money, and the politicians who are receiving it, won’t be around when it comes time to pay it all back.