Editorial: Battle-tested Louisiana won’t scare too easily

If Barack Obama thinks he’s terrifying Louisiana taxpayers with his alarms over imminent budget cuts, he may be sorely mistaken.

The administration’s scare tactics

have come in the form of state-by-state predictions of peril. Count

Louisiana among those

50 tales of woe. Congress must act to fight off draconian budget

cuts by week’s end, the president warns, or $85 billion in

automatic federal cuts will go into effect.

If that happens, what looms ahead

for Louisiana is $15.8 million in federal cuts for K-12 education, about

$2.5 million in

funding for clean environment, some $35.9 million in lost pay for

civilian employees of the Department of Defense, $1.3 million

in decreases for treatment for substance abuse. That’s what the

feds are warning. But it’s more than a matter of dollars and

cents for Louisiana, the administration suggests. Real jobs are

imperiled.

For example, 220 public school

teachers and aides might lose employment. Some 7,000 DOD workers might

face furloughs. Job

searches for more than 17,000 Louisiana people may be affected,

the government warns, because some $509,000 in federal money

won’t be coming here for job search assistance, referral and

placement.

There’s more. We’ll have 8,000

fewer tests for HIV, because of a loss of federal funds; 400 fewer

victims of domestic violence

will be served. About 540 fewer low-income students will receive

aid; some 1,400 fewer Head Start and Early Head Start students

will be served. Sounds rough.

Or is it really that bad? The

federal cuts that may be mandated Friday, pending no action by the

Congress, represent only

2.4 percent of the $3.6 trillion federal budget. It was the

president himself, along with Congress, that proposed these austerity

measures in 2011. If both parties thought this was a bad idea, why

did they sign off on it?

In fact, some experts believe that the severity of the cuts will not match the talk, that because of how the federal government

disburses money, the impact in this fiscal year may be as little as half as the $85 billion estimates. Others believe that

any ill effects of the automatic cuts will be swallowed up in the $16 trillion national economy.

Others, of course — count among

them many of the political and public sector regulars — see only doom.

For example, the unemployed

will see a cut in their benefits, which is unfortunate. But many

of the nation’s employed have also been experiencing cuts

in their own take-home pay for years, which have come in the forms

of job furloughs, reduced hours, overtime. Things are tough

all over.

Five years into the Jindal administration, Louisianians are familiar with how mid-year government budget cuts work. Does Obama

scare us? Hardly. We’re tested.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,

Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.